Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 13.9.10, Afternoon
14:00 pm, Etzion DCL: dozens of people were there, many crowding the turnstile. Exit was very slow, they said. We began our usual round of phone calls: to DCL officers, to the Humanitarian Centre, to the Officer for Public Inquiries -- circuits all busy.
From Nir, the only DCL officer to anwer the phone, we learned that there had been a visit in which all the officers had participated, and that he had come down to the windows only now. Dealing with problems helpd to speed up the passage.
16:15 pm: there was an announcement to say the magnetic monitors would close down, and some 15-20 still waiting outside would not be let in. Major Danny came down to speak to these people; a few were let in, the names of the rest were taken down, and they were asked to return the next day. He claimed that the printer had been broken for some of the time, and that was the reason for the delay. In the future, he said, they would try to explain to the Paletinians the reasons for the delays. Nevertheless, our observations show that when no officer is present in the area of the window, work proceeds excruciatingly slowly.
We came across a fellow with a summons to Mokassad Hospital with his son. He was refused a permit on the grounds that he could be taken care off in the West Bank. With Hanna's help and advice we told him what he should do; and if there's no treatment in the West Bank, there's a a procedure which the local hospitals are familiar with , and they can refer him to Mokassad.
We met a fellow who has been working as a senior engineer for a company in the United Emirates for about 10 years. Occasionally he comes to visit his family in Bethlehem. This time he was not allowed to cross to Jordan through the bridges. He had tried 4 times already; had met with the Shabak -- he showed us the form on which it said he would receive a reply within 6 weeks; 8 had already passed, and no reply. Meanwhile he has been here for 4 months, three of them enforced. His losses include airline tickets for himself, his wife and 9-month old twin daughters, as well as three months salary. Will the state of Israel reimburse him for imprisonment in an open jail from which they will not release him?
Hanna suggested that he and his wife get magnetic cards, and then try their luck again; and gave them the phone number of an Israeli lawyer to appeal to the High Court. I called the Ha-aretz reporter, Avi Issascharov, who promised to look into the matter. Perhaps the newspaper could help?
And something less dismal: we met a fellow who said the Palestinians have yet to go far before they resemble Israelis in respect of social services, and he even said -- after Danny had gone down to talk calmly and patiently to those waiting -- that their own officers or clerks don't talk so nicely. A minor consolation.