20.3.23 at Etzion DCO

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Shlomit Steinitz and Natanya Ginsburg
20.3.23 at Etzion DCO

On the way there Shlomit said she hoped we could not be shot at. I asked if she meant by the army, the settlers or the Palestinians. But even when I drove to Hebron on my own all the years ago and in all situations, I was never attacked in any way. 

We arrived at the DCO and from afar we thought we could not be seeing correctly. But as we drew up, we saw that not only was the parking lot full, so that we could not get in but that cars were parked all the way down to the road leading up to the lot. We have never seen a sight like this in all the 20 years that we have been coming to the DCO.

Palestinians who are prevented either GSS or police had been called in in various ways. Hundreds of them. Truly hundreds. We are not exaggerating. Some said that they had received a joint summons a few days ago. Others said that the army had kindly visited their homes in the early hours of the morning to graciously "invite" them to come. And before you ask, many of those who were summoned had been working in Israel till a few days ago when they suddenly found out as they got to the checkpoints that their permit had been revoked. Our cameras cannot show you the miserable situation we found there. 

What better time to show the Palestinians that they are like ants in our eyes whom we can crush under our feet. 

Not the queen ant by the way ....but the worker ants. Maybe we need cheap labour just before Passover. We know where to get it from.  What better way before Ramadan to inflame the situation. What better way to accentuate the hopelessness of a man who cannot work and provide for his family. 

As they arrived their IDs were taken from them. They were told that the IDs would be checked and some of them would have their "prevention" removed. Some of them had been there since six in the morning. When we left after 12 NOT ONE ID HAD BEEN RETURNED. Not one! We should have made contact with someone to ask at what hour this actually happened. We can only imagine the confusion which probably ensued in the car lot which was already packed with cars and wet and cold people who had waited for hours when the army eventually made its appearance. 

It was also obvious that the Palestinians had been prepared for this. There were those who took advantage of the situation and set up an umbrella on the baggage of the car to sell coffee, tea, ready made sandwiches in pitta and other snacks. One man gave me and Shlomit coffee which we received gratefully, cold and wet as we were. As they say the one man's death is the bread of the other.

It poured with rain. The hall was so packed that you could not move. Hundreds waited outside in the rain. Some even prayed in the rain. I doubt that there is a God who will rain down blessings on them, not theirs and not ours. And their curse is ours. 

One man told how he had sat in jail in early 2006.  Since then he had not been involved in any criminal or terror activities. He had been told that unless he would "cooperate" with the authorities, he could continue sitting at home. that his situation was very dire. If he cooperated with them, he would have no trouble though getting a permit to work. 51 years old and not working. He has been to all the organisations and no one could help him. And so often we hear of this story of hand washing hand. His children both study in Turkey but when they come home, they are stopped at the bridge for hours and asked all about their father to bring pressure on them.

There was little we could do for them except give them the usual information about Sylvia and her ladies and about St. Yves and Leap (Legal Aid for Palestinians). We have never given out so many MachsomWatch notes in all the time that we have been at the DCO. We warned them it could take months. Once again we warned them not to go to just any lawyer, either Israeli or Arab. And we find that we also must warn them to differentiate between our Sylvia and the Sylvia in Hebron who is a lawyer. So many complain that they have paid her an enormous sum and received no help in return.

How I would have liked to drag out those on this miserable day sitting with their TV, their heating and their warm coffee to see what is being done in their names. To see what the street worker, the bagel seller, the cleaner, the builder go through for the privilege of working for the Jewish State. 

We wish we had a way of knowing how many of them went home with the golden permission in their grateful and humble hands.