Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 8.2.09, Morning
06:45 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: five positions open and people passing all the time. No lines forming, but the hall does not stay empty, as has happened in the past while many people were still on the other side.
We listened to the ecumenical volunteer saying that before we arrived, a number of people had been sent back to Bethlehem because of fingerprints. While we were at the checkpoint, only one man was sent back because of a permit that was not valid. The guard was very angry that “they wanted to fool me,” and he confiscated the old permit which the man needed in order to get a new one. The intervention of the man’s employer and of ours got the permit back into the hands of the worker, who went back disappointed that he had not passed but happy that he still had the permit.
Till 07:00 about 1700 people passed. Transit time was between three quarters of an hour and an hour.
Around 07:30 it was empty on the other side.
According to reports, many workers travel to other crossing points despite the cost, in order not to experience the nightmare of Bethlehem Checkpoint.
07:55 AM, Etzion DCL: many people standing in the parking lot waiting for the waiting room to open. After some minutes, somewhat late, the hall opened. The soldiers do not come on foot. Two descend from their vehicle while their driver waits for them. They depart fast.
A lot of people waiting for magnetic cards.
We met a man who never had a card. He had come to ask with little hope of getting it. He had number 4 in line so that the “daily quota of cards for the blacklisted” should not be an obstacle this time. We exchanged phone numbers, and he called: he had been sent home. I called Arye Shia, the public affairs officer at the Civil Administration. He spoke to the DCO, and when the man approached the window again, they told him to wait. At the end of the day, I talked to him, and he said that he has a magnetic card. Clearly there is a conflict between the Shabak which wants to hold the extra “bonus” in its hands and the Civil Administration that wants cards in the hands of the entire population. Both sides are not “kosher” but if a man wants a magnetic card, he should not get the impression that this is a benefit for which he has to “pay something” apart from a hundred shekels and a day’s wait which costs.
Two men arrive with a request form for a magnetic card signed by the officer and were told that they could get without waiting in line. They are waiting because the officer did not arrive and until we left they had not entered the waiting room for cards.
We met a family with a disabled man who needed MRI the following day in a Jerusalem hospital and was refused. We directed him to Hana B.. They did not have a permit on them, so they travelled to Bethlehem to prepare the request. It turned out that they also did not have an invitation with date. In addition, there is a better MRI machine in Hebron than in Mukassed, so they will apparently go there.
A lot of people enquired about what is open to them if they are blacklisted.