Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 8.2.09, Afternoon
15:15 PM, Etzion DCL: people approached us already in the parking lot. Quite a few problems to be tried and sorted out: Ibrahim, an elderly man, is waiting for a permit to Mukassed hospital for an MRI. We ask the soldier at the window what's his fate and he replies that the man should continue waiting (he's been there for over 2 hours). After a further one and a half hours they tell us he doesn't have the proper documents. (Should that take so long?).
A man seeking a merchant's permit is "refused". Could we inquire why? The officer would not tell him, he says.
With 2 men needing magnetic cards we are already familiar. After waiting for hours last Sunday, they were turned away towards closing time of the DCL because there were too many people inside the office. It seems as if their fortune today would be the same. We manage to persuade the officer in charge to let them in.
With 3 other people we are not so lucky. At 16:45 we receive the information that they will not be let in today, even though they only need a renewal of their magnetic card, a procedure that takes just several minutes. They thank us profusely for having managed to arrange that they can return the following morning even though they are from Beit Jallah and according to the "rules", Sunday is the only day dedicated to Beit Jallah residents.
Two men are obviously in the wrong place but no one can tell them where to go. They both have documents saying a relative of theirs should be released from custody today, but nobody actually knows where the relatives are held and where they would be released. No use asking the DCL people, they have no idea, and two trips to the police station further up the hill are of no avail either. For one of them we succeed in contacting the lawyer who handled his relative's (actually his son's) case, and he is told to go home and wait patiently. These things take time. We couldn't assist the other guy. He has to try and find out for himself from where he can pick up the relative for whom he had paid bail.
All in all, it seems that handing out proper information by the authorities of the occupation could make the lives of the Palestinians easier, if only for just a tiny bit.
17:00 PM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: it takes the people on their way home mere seconds to go thru the CP.