Visiting villages: Kafr Thult, Azawiyya, Mas-ha, .
The head of the village has no information about how many permits were issued for the olive harvest and how many people were refused permits because the farmers contact the Palestinian DCO directly. They want to postpone the hour the gate opens during the winter from 06:00 to 07:00 because it’s still dark at 06:00, and dangerous to move around. They also complained that during the olive harvest the gates opened only twice a day. We spoke with the new head of the village. He intends to consolidate the requests for permits next year so it will be easier to deal with them – as much as possible – and also promised to provide us with a list of people currently blacklisted. His goal is to encourage jobs and enterprises in the village and says that Kafr Thulth is now one of the more economically sound villages, with one of the lowest unemployment rates on the West Bank.
Many farmers attended the meeting with the head of the village to present their complaints, some of which are old and had been raised before: Muhamma Qadus, from whom 40 dunum were stolen because the fence at Azzun Atma was moved; others not permitted to reach their lands; the gate opens too early during the winter; the rains have eroded the road the army paved to the Magen Dan gate and it must be repaired.
We met with our acquaintance, the outgoing head of the village, who is still involved in running the village in an advisory and supportive capacity. By the way, the village head of Mas-ha is a voluntary position, so the occupant must also make a living, and he was working when we arrived. At the end of October, with the approach of the olive harvest, those blacklisted were invited to meet with ‘Adel to see what the reasons were. No one showed up. At one point during the harvest those with permits were called to come pick, but some didn’t show up. There’s no data on how many people received permits; the village head said he’d ask again over the village loudspeakers; people who’ve been blacklisted should inform the village head, or tell him why they didn’t show up for the harvest. We looked into the dates of the work supplementary to the actual harvesting; the Palestinian expert says they need about 20 days to prune between 20.1.13 and 10.2.13, and about 15 more days to plow between 13.2.13 and 1.4.13. We’ll talk to ‘Adel about it, ask him to consider their needs favorably.
All that is part of the Palestinians’ tsumud effort, their refusal to abandon their land, but the tremendous injustice of the security fence which doesn’t follow the Green Line and robs them of their land remains unsolved and leaves its mark.
The village of Kafr Thulth.
We came for another visit with the mayor of the village. He told us of extreme difficulties in the opening of gate #1263 mainly delays and unpunctuality in opening in the afternoons. Since our last visit the manner of presenting requests has been changed. Every week about 10 to 15 requests have been made for the olive harvest. Each request contains the names of the owner of the land and the workers he needs, either members of the family or workers. Before that 42 requests had been made of which only 7 had been granted. For the olive harvest 37 requests were made for 116 people and up to now no replies have been received. They hope for a reply before October 2012 which is before the holiday season knowing that if they do not get a response by then, it will be too late. This village is organized and most of the requests go through the clerk of the municipality.
Jayyus. At the entrance to the mayor's room there is a frightening display of grenades and other explosives curtsey of the IDF. .
M. who works at the municipality, tells us of his lemon orchard which is in the Seam Zone and which he cannot get permission to enter. He also tells us that about a project to lay a water pipe which will bring water to the village from the wells which are in the Seam Zone. There is coordination with the Israeli authorities and they hope the work will be completed in 9 months. Today the water is drawn from Azzun. There is also a building of a fence in process at a new alignment around the village.
M. also told us that he is involved in everything and does not have much time to talk to us. To our surprise he does not know the new regulations and is not interested in hearing about it. He says that the farmers of Azzun refuse to present separate requests as regards the olive harvest as they will then receive permits for a shorter period. Therefore a list of the owners of the land and their families together with the documents will be presented as before, 161 people, in the first weeks of September. No responses have as yet been received.
A list of the villages which have land in the Seam Zone: Mas-Ha, village of Kafr Thulth, Az-Zawiya, Jayyus, Saniriya, Ras Tirah, Kafr Jammal, Falamiyah, Khirbet Jaloud, Izbat atTabib, Khirbet Isla, Nabi Elyas, Kafr Tsur, Azzun, Dier Balut and maybe there are some which have been forgotten.
We would like to map out the number of requests which each has and to follow up on the permits, the passages and the restrictions. But it is above our capabilities. We ask the women who want to go out and those who are to join this endeavor to accept our help with anything else and to be in touch with us.
Meeting with the heads of the Masha and Kafr Thulth villages
Translator: Charles K.
We decided again this year to examine the issue of permits for the agricultural gates and the Palestinians’ freedom of movement in the seam zone before and after the olive harvest.
In Maskha we learned that they hadn’t yet applied for permits because they were waiting to be contacted by the Palestinian DCO, which sounded very strange to us because the olive harvest begins around mid-October. We asked the head of the village to look into the matter with the DCO. In addition to improvements and additional easings at the crossings, and expectations for a much better year, he reports a sharp decline in the price of olive oil as a result of olive oil imports from Spain and Turkey.
Nidal, the head of the village, is a journalist by profession and fills the post voluntarily. He’s a pleasant man; it was interesting that he told us he doesn’t intend to run for reelection but wants to address the issue of the handicapped population on the West Bank and their treatment. He’s seeking funding and advisory groups; if anyone reading this report has an idea, please contact Miki.
Tedesa called us when we were on our way to Kafr Thulth, asking us to look into the issue of access roads in the seam zone and problems with them. We promised to let people know. If anyone knows about a problem on a specific road, inform Tedesa; he’s prepared to listen and act.
When we met 'Aadel from the Qalqiliya DCO a few months ago he raised the possibility of changing the permit application procedure. The change would consolidate all the applications to a given plot of land under the owner’s, to which additional applications would be attached. That should make it more efficient to deal with the permits and keep Palestinians from having to go back and forth and waste time. He was cautious at that meeting, saying that it was still only an idea.
Kafr Thulth 11:00
Hussein, the head of the village, begins by complaining about some ten people who had submitted applications about three months ago and hadn’t yet heard. And then he tells us that this week they contacted the Palestinian DCO and received new application forms, which consolidate all requests under that of the owner. We saw the example of the form and our eyes brightened: the improved, more efficient procedure that A’adel mentioned is being implemented. Hussein assumes that some 300 applications will be submitted for the olive harvest, and even though he’s more pessimistic than his predecessor he’s determined to fill out the new forms and carry out the procedure in an organized and controlled manner. He also had complaints about the refusal to issue permits for vehicles and tractors to use the agricultural roads; we promised to speak with Tedesa.
At the conclusion of the meeting we asked him to call Nidal and hurry him up regarding applications for permits, and were again pleased to hear that Nidal called the DCO after we’d left and had also received the new instructions and appropriate forms.
We also met and talked with the principal of the local school, and were impressed by the new plotter they’d bought to print maps and plans.
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.