Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 3.11.08, Morning
7:10 AM, Bethlehem Checkpoint: the checkpoint was rather empty, few people were passing and they all noted that it was a quick passage. Inshaalla that every day will be like this, something for the forsaken to be happy about. One woman wasn't allowed to pass although she had a permit. They said that she didn't pass the biometrical examination; her fingers were deformed due to her arthritis. I tried explaining to the soldiers, a pleasant deputy commander and another soldier. They said she had to go back to the DCL to find out what she must do. She had already been at the DCL on the previous day, and was then told that everything was alright.
I intervened, that didn't help. I called Ronny, the police officer in charge of the checkpoint. After a couple of minutes he got back to me and everything was sorted out. I felt as though I have performed a good deed by the scouts: I help a woman cross a road, not pass through the checkpoint. But that wasn't the end of that. A first sergeant came to me and said he was the checkpoint commander- it was the notorious Yuav Stain! For several minutes he kept ordering me to get out. I kept on telling him that we had permission to remain at the checkpoint. He claimed that I had broken the agreement by talking to the soldiers. Yuav raised his voice: out, please, and I said quietly: I'm allowed to be here and I'll only leave when I'm done. And that how things kept on. I waited for Idit and once she arrived we got out of the checkpoint together. This guy, Yuav cases a lot of unnecessary damage.While I was standing there in front of Yuav a young woman with a pink veil was passing. She looked familiar to me but I was not sure who she was. She recognized me - three years ago when she was a student of medicine we helped her get a magnetic card and a permit to Jerusalem for her studies at Har Hazeitim hospital. Full of pride she told me that she was now a doctor. We hugged, it was a real joy. Those moments are what make it all worth while. A young woman passing complained that the Bethlehem Checkpoint doesn't have a lane for women or a humanitarian line. She said its very unpleasant to stand in a line so crowded with men, she had gone through an operation in her back and was afraid of the pushing in the line. She is right, a line for women is needed.
8:15 AM, Eztion DCL: catastrophe- there is no other way to describe what was going on there. There were about 160-200 people, it was unorganized and above all the amount of frustrations and anger that accumulated there was frightening! The DCL officers said that there was a problem with the DCL. There were a couple of factors that caused this horrible situation, many of people had arrived there in need of a magnetic card because all of the holidays had ended. There wasn't enough man power, one of the machines wasn't working, and other reasons I don't know. It's all true but nothing is surprising and they must look for solutions. Abu Ani talked to the people with a calm voice in spite of all the pressure. But the people were running out of patience, for many of them it was the third or forth time they went home empty handed. As usual for the past weeks the officers took no notice of the Palestinians' list - that caused them to feel angry and made things even more disorganized. The officers couldn't hand out numbers, people were shoving and being shoved, pleading didn’t' help. They were very angry about the arbitrary distribution of numbers. People who were at the beginning of the Palestinian list didn't get a number altogether, while those standing nearby did get a number. It's not hard to imagine how they felt. The regulations and organization of the DCL must be changed. People also complained that women were taking numbers and handing them to men, since they are the first to receive a number. That made the men that were waiting angry. The officer notified that only those who came to renew their magnetic cards would enter and he handed out 20 numbers. The other remained outside. When he left they all got into the hall. They waited there. The soldier at the counter kept demanding that they sit, there weren't enough chairs nor did they have the patience to sit. He said long sentences in the rusty loudspeaker and it was impossible to understand his Hebrew. One person waited to see the police officer. He didn't get any response until I persisted and called the officer who eventually said he could enter. He was waiting for over two hours.
11:00 - 11:30 AM: the officers were back and they wanted to hand numbers for those with working permits, so that they renew their magnetic cards. People ran to them so those with permits couldn't really pass in spit of the soldiers' recurrent request - they crowded around them and wouldn't move, hoping they might get a number. I don't know how that day ended since we finished our shift at 11:30. Something must be done about the regulations at the DCL, it's frightening, threatening and very worrying…