Etzion DCL

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Shlomit Steinitz and Hannah Br”g (reporting), Naomi Gal Translating

13:30 to 17:20

The bureaucracy of the occupation is the hardest and most horrible injustice of all, and has clear goals and principles. The Civil Administration is the very executive arm of the bureaucracy of occupation that established a "legal" and organizational system that rules efficiently and for a long time the occupied Palestinian population in the West Bank. This system, which is all about uncertainty, arbitrariness, rigidity and amazing inefficiency, turns those who need it to disciplined and submissive. It’s impossible to describe the anger and frustration they accumulate and it can’t be erased with one fell swoop, we and our sons and the sons of our sons will have to bear the consequences.


GSS Prevented: the exact number of GSS prevented (Palestinians denied entry to Israel for reasons best known to GSS) at any given time is unknown, but it probably is in the hundreds of thousands.  Do they represent a security treat to Israel? For most of them there is no precise information.  The prevented himself doesn’t know the cause of the prevention. An invisible hand, omnipotent, determines the course of his life and allows the authorities to blackmail him, and that way control his life. He is unable to find livelihood in Israel (and in the West Bank there is no chance to make a living), sometimes he could not pass to undergo medical treatment or to accompany a family member on his way to a hospital even in East Jerusalem!

Most of those waiting today at Etzion DCL (Civil Administration Offices handling the Bethlehem area residents) were youngsters waiting for a meeting with the GSS. All received a note to come to the meeting tomorrow "bukra".  Most of them will find out that tomorrow is not today and that after tomorrow there are many other tomorrows.


Case A: 27-year-old resident of Hebron, imprisoned in a wheelchair since the age of 12, would like to receive medical treatment at Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. But unfortunately he is GSS prevented.  Somehow he managed to drag himself occasionally for treatments at Al-Makassed, but now his situation has deteriorated and he needs an official permit that will open his way to get to a hospital without delay. He wants to see a representative of the GSS, to get an explanation for his prevention and state his request to have it removed. Even if there was a representative of the GSS (probably there wasn’t one) he did not see the guy in the wheelchair. The soldiers sent him to the Palestinian DCL to ask them for a permit to go to Al-Makassed Hospital. The Palestinian DCL sends him back to Israel on the grounds that he is prevented from entering and it’s up to the Israelis to remove the prevention. And so time and again, back and forth, cruel and thoughtless.

Case B: A guy in his late twenties, previously worked in Israel, came to the DCL to request a work permit. He turned to us after a Palestinian lawyer he hired for a huge amount of money was unable to remove the GSS prevention. A team of Machsomwatch members, who help prevented  fill applications for prevention removal explained to him how to do it, but he opted for a shortcut. With the help of a relative who works in Israel, and for 1000, he received a letter from the company’s owner asking to employ him. He did not follow the procedures, but by common sense came to the DCL with the letter in hopes of getting the coveted permit. Refusal was not long in coming. Outraged and agitated he turned to us. Firstly, we explained to him what is required so he asked us to explain this to the company's owner who gave him the letter. We complied. When the company owner heard that he has to contact the Employment Service himself and ask for the employee - he slammed the phone down. The guy went away angry and desperate. He has no time for such procedures: he needs to support his family – NOW!!!


Case C: A palestinian who works in Israel needed to renew his fingerprints (for the biometric identification procidure). He lives for many years in Bethlehem. Altough the Administration's computer shows that he lives in Tsurif (his native village) yet they issued him a magnetic card (just a short time ago) says he lives in Bethlehem and an ID card which also indicates he lives in Bethlehem. Even the attachment of a document obtained from the Palestinian Authorities confirms that he lives in Bethlehem. But the Administration's computer refuses to accept the fact. For the last six weeks he asked time and again to renew his fingerprints so he would continue to cross to Israel. Nothing helped: there is no way to overcome this “hitch”.  the soldiers sent him to the Palestinian Interior Ministry to convince them to approve his residence in Bethlehem and make sure that the change reaches the Israeli Civil Administration’s computer. It does not work!

We asked for an explanation at DCL and we got: "it is well known that Palestinians constantly change their place of residence to obtain administrative services from the Civil Administration. Who can guaranty us that this man actually lives in Bethlehem? After all, our computer says he lives in Tsurif? Let him go to Hebron ... " We: “but he was in Hebron and they sent him here.” The officer: "I only know what’s on the computer. Palestinians inform us every day of a change of address, so he has to make sure they inform us.”  At this point we lost our composure and raised our voice (something we apologized for later) and realized for the umpteenth time how the occupier has no logic, no will and no service – so what is there? There is stifling bureaucracy. Would the man’s fingerprints change if he was registered as living in Tsurif or Bethlehem, or for that matter in Honolulu???


Case D: a radio journalist from Hebron (who agreed that we report this) was doing his job as a journalist. When soldiers entered the house of the father of one of the hijackers and murderers of the three Jewish boys, apparently for the purpose of searching, the journalist and his young assistant rushed to the place and shot the event. The soldiers tried to stop the shooting and an argument broke out involving probably some pushing. The soldiers confiscated the camerainfo-icon and gave the journalist a note; the kind prepared in advance, which the soldiers can use whenever they want. The note says: You are summoned to officer…. (left open). The journalist’s name, date and time of the appointment 21/10/2014 at14:15.

The officer has no name, the note is not signed and there is no mention of the confiscation of the camera.

We tried to help - but the GSS has no address only a nameless “officer”! Before giving up we went on searching for an address / someone who will tell us where the camera is and when it will be returned and what’s the connection to the GSS summation?  We contacted the army spokesman who explained that this is not his field. Okay - so the realm of who is it? We got the address of a girl in the office of the major-general headquarters. We received a polite answer: “it’s not in my field but do not hesitate to call me anytime…”  DCL officials tried to help and suddenly the journalist was called the GSS door. We thought that the camera will materialize with an explanation.  How naïve we are…a phone number was taken and “we’ll call you”. When? Immediately upon the arrival of the messiah, not a minute later! The Journalist goes off to buy a new camera. Surprisingly he even found enough strength and patience to tell us excellent jokes.


When we were about to leave we "discovered" a man who also came to renew his fingerprints. The man stood in front of the carousel and argued with the soldier sitting behind the armored glass. It is ten minutes to five. The soldier tells him it’s closed and to come tomorrow. But it’s not yet five. "There are people inside." But the renewal of the fingerprints takes a moment and why should the man lose another day of work? They argue but nothing helps. We call the officer who explains: "There are procedures and you will not change them." He is right - it's really not my job and it’s not what I asked for. I only asked for a little bit of consideration and some flexibility. But now we have reached high notes, we, at least, and this obviously hardened the other side. Five is five! That's how bureaucracy works! There are rules and we don’t break them under any circumstances! We realized!

We were glad they made the effort and gave us the permits for the trip of the handicapped children from Bethlehem and for this we thank them.

We left angry and tearing. Is this day different than any other??