Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 13.7.08, Morning

Sylvia P., Ofra B., Chana A. (reporting)

6:55  AM, Bethlehem CP 300: We walk into an empty receiving hall, seemingly a good sign. There we meet Hanna, the Ecumenical woman on duty. She tells us that exactly at this moment, as more than 2000 people have passed through the terminal, the whole procedure has crashed. The metal detectors on the other side have stopped working and hundreds of people are still trapped on the other side. For the next half hour only a dozen or two people cross. The next half hour after that there is a group of women who pass through and very few men. It is now 8:00 in the morning. Sylvia has been calling the humanitarian hotline, Hanna B is called upon to call whoever she can, the Ecumenicals call. All to no avail. After 8:00 there is no let up. The staff of the terminal claim the baggage X-ray machine is down, two of the metal detectors are down and there is no back up of hand-operated metal detectors. When we hear shouting in the terminal on the other side, we know that at least there is a new line of people who will appear shortly. So it is. We are getting phone calls from at least one of the workers, Omar, who is furious. A day's work is going down the drain, people have waited for hours and now are late for work. We wait until 9:00 when the crowd is still not through completely. We leave and meet many workers outside, ready to go back home. This morning is the climax of several days of the same wild disturbances in the order of crossing-over. We are talking about people who come up against these possible "surprises" every single day of the week.

9:10 AM, Etzion DCL: Few people milling outside. Inside the hall is full but not as full as last week. We meet people who are here for the third day running. There is a new procedure: No longer the self-made list of people in accordance to time of arrival. A soldier came and tore up the list. The order is now: Over 50's first, then over 40's and then the day is done. The younger men come back each day for either renewal of their magnetic cards or request for a new one, but the chance of being received is slight. At 9:30 some 15-20 people have been dealt with. Only one window is open inside, so the report of the exiting Palestinians says. Result: People lose days of work and risk their jobs by hanging around the DCO. When someone is sent back at the CP for renewing his hand-print, as is regularly the case, this is in effect a very heavy fine for him.

We have only a few supplicants today.