Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 18.8.08, Afternoon

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Orit Y., Ilana D. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

2:30 PM -  6:15 PM
El Khadr :  Today - is a very hot day.

We saw that the wall is now completed along the old El Khadr entrance and looked from the new taxi stand at the entrance to Hussan to find out that the road construction has been halted. The taxi drivers told us that there were ‘problems’, so meanwhile they can still use Road 60 to take passengers from Jerusalem that are dropped there from the bus. We spotted two lone children trudging over the earth mounds from the tunnel under the main road. School will start next week and the rains soon afterwards – the mud will be worse than ever.

We had never seen so many cars (mainly yellow cabs) parked near the Etzion DCL; we hardly found a spot.The door was closed and angry men were outside with two soldiers who had come to ‘make order’. Inside there were more than a hundred people; the air condition is not functioning and since there was some breeze they had been told to wait outside. One of the soldiers from the North said that he had a friend who ‘works’ with us at the Checkpoints near Nablus and he thinks we are doing a good job. Inside it was hell – boiling hot.

No one was willing to budge. There were some sniggers when we were spotted. They knew we were useless. Some men told us that they had been sent back last week at the end of the day and had arrived at 3:30 in the morning when they had started making up a list. An officer who had told them that only women and elderly men could enter and in addition had pointed to a few individuals who were also allowed to go in had torn up one copy of the list. “Extremely unfair”. We tried in vain to shout to the soldier. Then called Tadesse and got his wife, he is probably on leave. The driver of Yigal Arnon equipped with an important looking letter was trying to help a worker who had been employed by him for the last 14 years and was among those who had arrived in the middle of the night. He threatened to call the Chief of Staff and complain. We told him to bring over his boss so he would see the situation. From the time we arrived (3:00 PM) until close to 5:00 PM no one entered. We talked to someone  inside who insisted that they were doing whatever possible.

The humanitarian desk was called and they promised to deal with it without result. Some more numbers were tired with idle promises. Hanna B. was very much aware of the situation and told us that she had written strong letters and a visit inside has been planned for one of these days. She said that 200,000 people are served by the one DCL, which could handle about 70 applications a day.

Someone who apparently was the commander, Rami B., shouted at us from within to let us know that he could not tell us anything. Suddenly with great noise the turnstiles started moving a little; a few more women were let in. Most men left very disgruntled. Then after ‘official’ closureinfo-icon a few men were let in after their names had been called out and again the names of two women. Some men insinuated that either money or other ‘dirty’ business was involved here.

We left at 5:45 after the cab drivers had threatened they would leave and the few remaining men had no choice but to get up. One said this had been his fourth attempt (and fourth wasted day) to get his magnetic card.

We have never been as frustrated before and decided to skip whatever might have been left to observe.
With some satisfaction we saw a couple of skinny men squeezing through the closed ‘humanitarian’ gate at the old entrance to El Khadr