The parking lot at Etzion was so packed we had trouble finding a place to leave the car. I remember vaguely that something had been said the previous evening at the zoom that the army was calling in groups of Palestinians so as to bring some order into the mess of those prevented. One wonders if this is out of the kindness of the heart of the army or maybe Israel needs more cheap labour especially for the settlements and the roads that are being built for the settlers. One doubts that it is out of the kindness of the Israeli hearts. One gets the feeling that these people have been herded in from the villages as if they were sheep, especially as the waiting room had been locked and everyone was in the parking lot.
Good that you helped in the end for the urgent cases. Can I try to offer a better offer?
Maybe it's better that when there's another day like this, someone goes out every hour to take care of the urgent things, and the non-urgent ones will say they'll come the next day? It will solve a lot of heartache. Why not open the waiting hall, everyone can sit and then take the certificates and return comfortably, without having to stand in front of the bars like in a zoo. think about it. Thanks Sent from my iPhone
Except for three women all were men and they had come to get a permit to enter Israel to take a nine year old girl to St. John’s hospital the next day as she was to be examined in preparation for an operation on her eyes.
We were also approached by a man who was to travel the following morning at 4am to Germany to bring a sick person back. He said he knew that there was a permit waiting for him ….but how to get it with the offices closed. Also, a man who had to go for physiotherapy. Shlomit wrote to Asaf and just before we left he came out and they were all dealt with to their satisfaction.
The Palestinians had come from three different refugee camps, Aza, Aida and Duheisha. One could almost call it a festive occasion if you did not know that these people had come as they needed the work in Israel. There were at least three different “stalls” where coffee, water, etc. were being sold. We were surprised that they had not been harassed and thrown out. But on sober reflection we realized that had the soldiers come out into the parking area which they never do and tried to do so it would probably have led to a real melee as there were well over a hundred men there.
The people were very patient as they waited but a situation like that can also get out of hand very quickly. Some had had their permits taken from them at the check point only that morning, some have been prevented for years. The ID’s were collected and the soldiers disappeared. It must be said that the soldiers guarding the checkpoint from behind the bars of course were parachutists and were very pleasant and did try to be helpful. The one took the papers of the ladies and two other people and came out to say that the officer would be out shortly.
We waited to see that this would be so and this was the picture as we left with the three ladies coming past with happy smiles. The man in the third picture in the blue shirt was told that his permit would be brought to him.
The IDs were collected by soldiers from behind the bars and they were told that after receiving them back they would get an answer in about three days. We put the notice about Sylvia on the back window of the car door and the Palestinians took it and pasted it on the locked door of the waiting room and many people photographed it.
One man who was very helpful to us in translating told us that he had thrown stones when he was a young boy and had sat in jail for 6 years and then again another four years for an incident in which he had not been involved. But this was 13 years ago and he is still prevented. He had taken a lawyer but nothing came out of that. He bought us coffee and refused to take payment but when he wanted the pay the vendor the latter also refused.
Another man when he thanked us and we said we had done nothing said he would bring us a flower. Let is not be said that there are not moments when one’s heart lifts. Also later when we went to our favorite Ricardo a man whom the little assistant had asked to carry down out parcels asked if we were Sylvia. One feels that though there is often little that we can do in the occupied areas Machsomwatch and our efforts are known.
This is what Shlomit wrote to A. at the end of the day:
“Good that you helped in the end for the urgent cases. Can I try to offer a better offer?
Maybe it's better that when there's another day like this, someone goes out every hour to take care of the urgent things, and the non-urgent ones will say they'll come the next day? It will solve a lot of heartache.
Why not open the waiting hall, everyone can sit and then take the certificates and return comfortably, without having to stand in front of the bars like in a zoo. Think about it. Thanks”
And if I for once may end these ghastly reports on a light note let me quote Gilbert and Sullivan:
Then we dine and serve the coffee, and at half-past twelve or one,
With a pleasure that's emphatic,
We retire to our attic
With the gratifying feeling that our duty has been done