Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 10.11.08, Afternoon
14:30-17:30 Bethlehem CP 300 : We had heard about the festival, which had taken place the day before around the Rachel Terminal and which had prevented people from getting to the CP. Therefore we decided to start our shift there in order to find out what had really happened. As usual some minibus drivers were sitting along the road awaiting passengers and we asked them. We received a detailed reply, like every year around this time there is a huge festival connected with Rachel the Matriarch and no one could get close to the terminal. The Palestinians were forced to use alternative crossings and the minibuses took them via the tunnel road to the Beit Jalla checkpoint.
Despite the early hour and the small number of people crossing we decided to go inside the terminal and we were not sorry we did. We noted that one of the Palestinians had to bend down completely in order to be able to talk to the soldier at the first window. When we looked closer we understood why the worker had to stand in such an awkward bent over way. The soldier was almost lying down on his chair, his legs up on the table and he was talking on the phone. That is how all the people who crossed saw him and how they had to address him if necessary. It looked so disgusting that we couldn't help but point out to him that he was serving the public and that his behavior was not suited to what he is supposed to represent. Of course he dismissed our remarks. The girl soldier who was at the next window chewing gum shouted at us to stop disturbing them in their work.
After the soldier had told one of the Palestinians that tomorrow there would be a closure because of the elections we decided to call Ronny, the commander of the CP both in order to find out re the closure and also to inform him how upset we were abut the behaviour of the soldier. Ronny not only listened to what we had to say, but also immediately came down. First of all he was angry with the soldier who misinformed someof the Palestinians since there is not supposed to be a curfew on Tuesday and secondly he immediately asked the commander of the Military Police to come over and told him what he had heard from us and demanded from him to punish the soldiers at the windows!!
Etzion DCL: We continued to the DCL. The parking lot was crowded. Inside there were about fifty people, some were sitting and others stood near the turnstiles. Another ten men were waiting outside. All were upset and frustrated and repeated the stories of the last couple of weeks. They had arrived at 3:00 AM for the third or fourth time (only on Mondays of course) and again received no number and will have to return next week. Complaints on the way the numbers are issued, how women get preference, on work days lost and the slow pace the work is done at the DCL.
Next to the turnstiles stood mostly men in possession of numbers. Number 16 had still not entered and it was already 3:30 PM. It turns out that 30 people who could prove they had been there last week were let in and a number of women without any numbers. A young man told us that his nine-year old son is in need of weekly medical treatment in Augusta Victoria. He has not succeeded getting into the DCL for the last month to obtain a permit.
When we realized after about half an hour that nothing was moving Nebuani was called. It turned out that he was in Ramalla. Nevertheless we told him about the situation and begged him to help from afar and to send one of the officers of the DCL into the waiting hall. When we told him that there were dozens of people in the line, he said: “You should have been here in the morning when there were hundreds of people. It proves we are doing a good job.” Were hundreds of people indeed dealt with or did most of them leave the place disappointed for lack of hope to get in? According to all those present not more than 40 people had entered in the course of the day.
Our request was answered and a few minutes later Tadesse came in accompanied by an assistant who spoke Arabic. He let all at once all those in possession of a number inside (about fifty men). He also listened to the story of the man with the sick child who had no number and told him what he had to do.
We thanked Tadesse and were grateful of what he had done, but asked ourselves again for the umpteenth time how during the last hour the DCL was open he could deal with the same number of people he had dealt with during the entire day? And also why not all requests could be dealt with in a more humane and efficient way?