The illusions of the occupation: a policeman in the Etzion DCO that never comes

Shlomiet Steinitz, Natanya Ginsburg (reporting)

11.00 - 12.15

The parking lot was full.  Inside the courtyard, Palestinians with their papers of ownership  and lawyers were waiting. None of them approached us, but they did notice us, and shortly a young man who spoke excellent English came to us.  He said there were about 10-15 people waiting for the policeman.  They’ve sent him to inform us and ask for our help in the matter, because the policeman, as usual, had not shown up yet today.  This policeman tends to be absent quite a bit, and when Hannah B. inquired into this matter he claimed that he was busy elsewhere.

 Shlomiet then wrote to our friend N. who said he would see what he could do about it. Shortly thereafter we were told that the “phantom policeman” had finally arrived. We couldn’t tell whether all who waited were helped, or if some were told to come back another day, when yet again he may not arrive...

 An unfamiliar  person with an aggressive demeanor told us he is trying to reunite with his family in East Jerusalem. We gave him several numbers of people to contact, but he kept asking us for N.’s phone number, which of course we did not give him (Having never communicated with him before, we don’t know where he’d got N.’s name from). He kept ignoring our suggestions of phone numbers and contacts, and stood next to us insisting that he was told by the soldiers inside the offices that he must speak with N. Meanwhile we were trying to help others or  make phone calls. He spoke to a lawyer in Tel Aviv, or rather had someone speak for him, saying he didn’t have the money to pay. We told him to contact the Center for the Defence of the Individual (Hamoked). He kept demanding that we phone for him so eventually we decided to ignore him.

 There were the usual cases of people who have been prevented from entering. We gave them all Sylvia’s details. She and her crew assist with the bureaucracy of finding out the reasons for refusals.

  People from Bethlehem complained that though they had requested numerous times to go to the Friday prayers in Jerusalem they’d been refused.  N. explained to Shlomiet that there was a quota of 1000 people in Bethlehem. This means that there are also quotas for other areas, so not many people will receive permission for prayers at Al-Aqsa.

 A young man who spoke excellent  Hebrew explained that he lives  with  his family in Abu Tor. He  was trying to get the documents for the land of his family near Abu Tor which is in area c. Turns out he already has connections with those we were going to refer him to, so we all agreed he didn’t need our help.  . He also said that he had an aunt in Sheik Jarrah whom the settlers were trying to evict.

 An Israeli man whose wife lived with him without permission told us that he signed her up for Kupat Cholim and she was vaccinated. Now she wants to visit her family but is afraid she may not be able to return. He also has four children with Israeli ID cards, but he was unsuccessful with one  daughter, a lawyer who studied in Bethlehem, because his application for her citizenship was too late. He also complained that their vaccinations are not registered in the army’s computer. All we could tell him is that it will take time. He is also trying for family reunification and is in good hands with Tamir Blank.

 A woman approached us and said she’d spoken to us before. We didn’t remember her, but her story sounded familiar. She and her daughter had gone with her son-in-law for a joyride. They did not realise that he was drunk as he tried to go through a checkpoint.  She said that he only spent 4 days in jail (strange),  while she now has black marks by her name on the computer.  She needs to visit the hospital frequently and as a result of this she now gets a permit for one visit only instead of a 3-month permit.