Bethlehem, Tue 2.6.09, Afternoon

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Yael L.- J., Illit R. (both reporting). Avital F.(driving). Channa B. (also consulting by phone).
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

14.15 PM, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300:   we arrived at the  Bethlehem DCL, which was planned as the first of more stations, but turned out to be our only one. We stayed there until 19 p.m. because of special circumstances which we never had before.

There were many more people than usual on Tuesday afternoon, where at the same time only 2 to 4 persons are in the waiting hall.  Today between 14.40 p.m. and 15.35 p.m. came together about 40 people, mainly two families from Bethlehem appealing for new magnetic cards. They had made an appointment  in advance with this DCL which usually was not in charge for them.

Most of them were Christians. One of them, a business-woman (with her own shop) told us, that on Sunday they had been at the beach “Siesta” at the Dead Sea.  The entrance fee was listed there as 40 Shekel per person, but they were charged 50 Shekel, ‘take it or leave it’, because they were Arabs.  The children were charged 40 Shekel instead of 35.

The soldiers at the booth were often absent. Then all of a sudden 8 women were called to the turn- style, They and their families were let in, but without their handbags or backpacks, so that for the following hours they did not have any personal items on them not even a handkerchief.

A younger man came to find out why his permit was canceled. We had Yael S. talk to him in Arabic.

A man who had a US green-card, was denied permit for an appointment the next morning at the American consulate concerning a visa for his 14 year old son. He received a permit after a few hours and  phone calls by Channah B. to superiors.

At about 18:00 p.m. all the Christians families left  the building with their magnetic cards. They were told that a machine was broken. That was the reason that they had to wait such a long time. 

The most important case was the one of a modest Muslim couple. The wife had breast cancer and was going for surgery to remove her breast the next day, June 3 at the Auguste Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem. She was denied entry permit as did her husband and they came back to the outer waiting room where her situation was explained to us and to Channa B. who was still around. After a number of phone-calls by Channa, the woman, Yasmin was called back inside where she stayed with the other people (Christian group) until around 18.00, over 2.5 hours without her purse while her husband was waiting outside.

She came out without a permit!

By that time we were on phone contact with Channa who called to update us often with news that in 10-15 minutes it will be arranged, which it was not.

We sat around with the sick woman whose husband and Avital went to get some tea/coffee and snacks. At that time she has been at the DCL for over 3 hours. The permit for her and her husband were finally given at 19.15, after more than 30 calls from Channa to various officials. The couple was told to pick up a permit for their daughter the next day.