Beit Ummar, Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nabi Yunis, Mon 15.3.10, Morning

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Chaya O., Chana S. (reporting)

7:00 AM,    Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: because of the closureinfo-icon, very few people were passing.  Only two checking booths were operating, one of which – miraculously – had two computers!  Unfortunately, the two women soldiers operating them were lounging back in their chairs (one chewing gum) and indolently looked at documents from that position.  We phoned to complain about their disrespectful behaviour.

7:15 AM: met with two clients, as arranged, for them to sign power of attorney.

8.00 AM, Etzion DCL: a number of men were waiting for the office to open.  We ascertained that there was a police officer present to handle queries.

At each point, Chaya explains to the clients that they must not leave without getting a printed answer, not relying on some spoken answer.  If they have trouble in this respect, they are to phone her before leaving the station.  Sometimes we have to rely on a local to translate into Arabic and can only hope that the instructions do not get distorted on the way.

8:30 AM, Halhul:  once again ‘admired’ the newly paved entrance - which was recently proudly presented on television.  What the t.v. didn’t point out was that there is no left turn out of Halhul at this point – in fact there is even a barrier to prevent it – so that in order to drive north, drivers in Halhul have to first go south all the way to Nabi Yunis (some 2 km?) and then turn.  This for a town of thousands.  Meanwhile, the nearby settlement of Karme Zur, with its population of a few hundred, has turnings towards both north and south!  (Photographs of these two junctions will follow separately.)

8:45 AM,   Sair:  here the road which leads to Wadi Nar and on, is closed.  A notice says it is closed for roadwork until May. We were told that this is in preparation for building yet another ‘Arab only’ road, so that Palestinians will ultimately use that instead of the 60 up to Etzion.  Meanwhile, the locals do drive up to the Ephrat junction and turn there to reach Wadi Nar.

9:00 AM, Nabi Yunis:  Here we met with clients as prearranged.  One needed to have his traffic fine paid and cancelled so as to process his application for an American visa.  In addition, extra clients arrived, on the system of ‘a friend brings a friend.’ Many need advice on how to get information even about the reason for cancellation of their permits.

10.00 AM, Back to Beit Ummar: because we got a phone-call on the way, to help someone who has been out of work for a couple of years now because the police had cancelled his permit.  As there was a police officer on duty at Etzion, we arranged for him to get there right away (the police were supposed to be there until 12.00, but one never knows..)  to get information so as to be able to appeal.