Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Qalqiliya, Sun 19.9.10, Morning

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Sylvia P., Ofra B., Hana A. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

07.00 am, Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: three inspection windows are open, and the situation is difficult today. Those coming out report that the crossing took about two hours. They complain about the female soldiers who shout and talk into their telephones, but most of the delay is on the Palestinian side, where people are not allowed to pass and the inspectors don't use the electronic inspection instruments which are at their disposal, and so forth. It's the usual story.




According to the EAPPI's count ( the Ecumenical volunteers ) 1720 people have passed up till now. One can hear that many more are still waiting (on the other side). The situation continues to be difficult until 07.40, when the hall fills-up with people. The inspection at the windows is performed quickly, and those who arrive last report that the crossing took only half-an-hour, or even less. By 08.00 the hall is empty.




The difficult conditions in the early hours are a recurring problem every day and not just on Sundays. Those passing through the checkpoint posess permits, and it should be possible for them to get through faster, but there is no cooperation from those in-charge. Also, there is insufficient manpower. But even if there were, it would have to be accompanied by a willingness to let the throng of people through quickly. The workers coming out are frustrated.




08.30 am, Etzion DCL: there are many applicants for magnetic cards and special permits. Many people approach us for help because they are on the GSS-denied list. We leave the DCL at around 11.00.




During our shift we receive a telephone-call from the Kalkilia checkpoint, where the following serious case of a human-rights violation took place:




A young woman from Nablus, who had been accepted as a student in a prestigious international course of study at Tel-Aviv university, passed through the checkpoint there with a special one-day permit in order to make the necessary arrangements at the university. (Because of her outstanding academic record, she has received a full scholarship to finance her studies from the Wolfson Foundation in London).




The student arrived at the checkpint at 07.00 and saw in front of her a sign-board in three languages - Hebrew, English and Arabic - which welcomes the people arriving at the checkpoint On the Hebrew sign is written something like “have a pleasant journey”; however, on the Arabic version was written (the equivalent of) “have a happy death”. Apparently an Arabic-speaking soldier had erased the word “journey” and replaced it with “death” . The student photographed the Arabic sign.




She was detained and put into an inspection room, where - without any explanation - she was forced to strip completely, and held for four hours. After this delay, during which she was subjected to prolonged abuse, she was allowed to continue on her way to the university.




Is this really the path to cooperation and peace with the Palestinians ? Is this (an example of) an intentional policy towards Palestinian students in general, or just to this student ? Will she have the strength to study in Israel when she has to pass through the Kalkilia checkpoint every day ?




A complaint has been lodged by the head of the program with the coordinator of the government's activities in the occupied territories. The complaint includes a demand for a written explanation about this case, prior to a formal complaint being submitted to the military advocate's office.




And we (in MachsomWatch) ask : for how long will this senseless and domineering mistreatment of detaineesinfo-icon continue, and for how long will the weakness of a population under military occupation continue to be exploited ?