Etzion DCO: Suddenly the breadwinner of the family can no longer move to work in Israel

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Shlomit Steinitz, Sheila Nagar, Natanya Ginsburg

10:30 – 12:00


It is hard to imagine the frustration of those we see every week at the DCO of Gush Etzion. Some suddenly find themselves “refused” (blacklisted, refused entry permit to work inside Israel) overnight. Sometimes a whole family is refused. Can anyone imagine the panic their families face when their breadwinners come to tell them that they no longer have work? Years ago at Qalandiya we encountered eight men of one family, all employed at the Atarot Israeli industrial zone, who arrived at the checkpoint to discover that they had been “refused “and they had no idea. This is what happens with so many others whom we see each week.


It could be because someone had offered their names out of vengeance, or an employer using this ploy so as not to have to pay them. It could be the careless finger of some soldier on the computer. It could be a stone which had been thrown by some member of the extended family of whom they have never heard.  It could be that someone in the family has Corona. You name it. The occupation will find a reason.


We warn them not to go to a lawyer. So often we hear that they have already done so and their money has been cast out in the wind.   We give them the phone numbers of Sylvia and her colleagues, hoping this team will be able to extract them from the morass in which they find themselves. But sometimes it is too late.


There are however other cases whom we advise to turn to Yesh Din, The Association for Civil Rights, or The Moked  (the Center for the defense of the individual). There is the New Family, an organization of which we only heard a few weeks ago, that helps those trying to reunite families in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Others we direct to individuals such as Hanna Barag or Hagit Ofran.


We saw perhaps 12 cars… not many people. Maybe because of the fear of the Corona virus, maybe because they do not leave their homes now.


There are very few cases. People now enter the DCO offices quickly so that the waiting room is usually completely empty. Those coming out of the offices seem to have succeeded in whatever they needed as they did not come up to us.


There was the case of a man whose relative is undergoing chemotherapy at East Jerusalem’s Augusta Victoria hospital. In this case it was very hard to get the gist of his problem as in the beginning he said that the whole family lived together and everyone had Corona though he was well. He is not considered a first degree relation, and the patient’s sister has trouble with her legs and can’t undertake the journey.  Then it turned out that he and his nuclear family lived a distance from the other extended family.  It was not only a problem of language. Even when it was explained to him by others in Arabic he kept coming back to us. He said that the soldier would not let him through. We phoned N. who said that all the man had to do was to go to the checkpoint. He, N. had spoken to those stationed at the checkpoint and he would be allowed through. Because it is N. we trust him but what will happen when the man comes to the checkpoint is another question.


A man who speaks Hebrew came with a friend who is a merchant, and for three weeks has suddenly been refused entry. Again we referred him to Sylvia.


We encountered a man whose family, mother, wife and children are all in Israel whereas he lives in the West Bank. He had been arrested for some reason which he did not wish to describe, and now could no longer cross the checkpoint. I sent his whatsapp the contact details of the New Family organization.