Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Kufr Thulth, Wed 28.3.12, Morning
Kafr Thult and the seasonal agricultural gate, Ras Tira east 1263 (the Palestinians call it the Al’kharab 1262 gate)
We met as planned with A’adal, the DCO head, and Tedesa, the crossings officer, as part of our effort to bring them together with farmers from the seam zone so they can hear their complaints and requests regarding the upcoming olive harvest season.
We crossed through the Eliyahu gate and drove along the fence, pass the Khirbet Asla gate. The road detours around Alfei Mensheh, becomes steep and lovely on the way to Ras Tira east – 1263, a seasonal gate. We’d arranged by phone to meet the head of the village and his aide there after they’d come through the gate that opens at 11:30 for fifteen minutes. When we arrived a group of some 15 farmers waited for us on the Palestinian side to present their complaints, but they didn’t have permits to cross. Only two farmers came through the gate to represent the farmers; neither of them was the head of the village or his aide.
The first request was to open the gate two days a week instead of one. A’adal promised to consider the request, and suggested transferring one of the three days that the Khirbet Asla gate is open. The farmers weren’t particularly happy with that idea, of course, but A’adal said he has to work with the limited numbers of days allocated to him.
A second complaint related to how long it takes from the date the permit expires until a new one is issued.
They also asked to be allowed to bring in vehicles during the harvest period, in addition to agricultural equipment, to transport the produce.
A’adal, for his part, asked that all the families requesting permits prepare the necessary documentation – a map, an extract from the land registry file, a probated will – regarding the lands, and after the first wave of permits have been issued, that they resubmit applications from those who were not approved specifying their employment opportunities.
Rony reminds A’adal of their visit to Kafr Jamal and his promise to open permanently one of the gates, one the Palestinians had indicated, after the plowing had been completed.
The two farmers promised to report the discussion to the head of the village, and already today I received a call from Z. (Kafr Thult) informing me they’d prepared a letter summarizing what they understood to be the result of the discussion and sent it to the Palestinian DCO.
On our way back we saw tractors rehabilitating the area near the Wadi Rasha gate and Ras A-Tira north
The three-week plowing season ends Sunday. Tedesa promised to provide soon a new schedule of opening hours for the gates.