Visiting the Seam-line zone villages: Sanniriya
We arrive at the council building that overlooks a beautiful landscape (reviewed in our previous report) and meet the head of the village, Abu Tarek, who suggests that we go out to the houses of the people who voiced complains and see for ourselves what is going on at the site. Yusuf Jaaber, who was the first to complain, joins us.
Yusuf Abdul Karim Abdallah Jaaber:
Yusuf Jaaber had 50 dunams (12 acres) of land registered in his father's name at the Tabu [Land registration office] which are now within boundaries of the settlement of Ornit. In 1982 his land was invaded by a land company that acquired lands in Judea and Samaria and they started operating tractors. That company claimed to own the land as a result of an acquisition transaction carried out with the help of one of the land dealers in the West Bank from the village of Habla, a well known collaborator, who helped to forge the father's signature who had, supposedly agreed to sell the land. The family filed a lawsuit and won, after which the work in the place stopped but the trial went on. However, this was not the end of the story. One day in 2001, as Yusuf and his father were walking along the road on their way back to Sanniriya after working their land, a Palestinian car stopped next to them. The passengers warned them that walking along the road was prohibited and offered to give them a ride to Qalqiliya. They took them elsewhere and forced the father, who had no choice, to sign an authorization document, in which he asked to stop the land dispute trial. They filed another complaint but it seems that they lost their land in the trial. In the past they grew wheat and vegetables there. Today, 20 dunams of their land are covered with buildings. For the last 4 years they have had no access to their land that has, in all probability been sold. We have passed the information on to "Yesh Din" organization so that they check whether there is still something that can be done about it.
Magid Galb Barie
Magid's family has 150 dunams (37 acres) of land registered in the name of his grandmother, Safia, who left them to her five sons, one of whom is Magid's father. The lands, with olive groves on them, are located between Elkana and Ets Efrayim. This year Magid got a two week permit for the time of olive picking. However, in stead of opening the gate in the separation fence close to their lands, attached to their other lands but trapped inside the seam-line zone beyond the fence, Magid and landowners in the area of another ten families are sentenced to driving 5 kilometers from their houses in Sanniriya to Gate Bin Amin – known to us as Gate Azzun Atma north – where they get permission to walk back the same 5 kilometers or drive a tractor but not a private car on the patrol road in order to get to their lands. All in all, in those two weeks they drove or walked 20 kilometers daily to get to their lands that are within spitting distance from the village of Sanniriya. The route described above is hard on everyone, especially the older among them, and waste of precious time.
In addition to that, according to Magid, those two weeks didn't give them enough time to finish picking the olives from all the trees in their lands. But this was not the end of the troubles: In the last two years none of the farmers, including owners of two year permits, among whom are three of Magid's brothers – Saber, Mantasser and Yasser – was allowed to get to his lands to do the various seasonal tasks like pruning, plowing, weeding and insecticide spraying – tasks that have to be done either monthly or in a particular time of the year. These tasks, they were prevented from doing, are essential part of caring for the trees and guaranteeing next year's crops. In addition, the grass that grows in the fields and is not removed is one of the causes of the fires that break out almost annually in their fields and destroy the olive trees.
Magid, who came again and again to ask to open the gate and let him continue with the olive picking and do the other tasks, asked for a renewal of the permit after the olive harvesting time. He was presumably considered a trouble maker and was, because of that, refused on the grounds of security. Why was that necessary? To serve as a deterrent? The lords of the occupation and the Civil Administration may have the answers …
At this stage Magid asked to open an agricultural gate in the fence between Sanniriya and Efrayim Gate which will give them a direct access to their lands and enable them to do all the work that has to be done for cultivating the land and caring for the trees.
Abdel Karim Da'ud A-Sheih
His family has 35 dunams of land between Sha'arei Tikva and Ets Efrayim. The land is registered in the name of the 86 year old father and shared commonly with him and his four brothers.
This year he was late in requesting a permit for the olive picking because he preferred to pick the olives in the lands close to the village first, claiming that a lot of stealing, for which the people of Mas-ha were responsible . He himself had no permit, but one of his brothers had got one and when he came to the area, he found out that all the trees had already been picked. Shepherds from Mas-ha had entered place through gate 1534 before the olive harvesting began and picked all of Sanniriya's olives.
It must be said here that the permits are given to each of the villages at a different time, in accordance with the forces that the army allots for the issue of opening the gates and escorting the people on the patrol road. It seems that the people of the village of Mas-ha got the permits two or three weeks before the people of Sanniriya did and some of the Mas-ha people, enduring poverty and hardship, entered their neighbours' fields and stole their crops, which, unfortunately, often happens.
We watched the lands from the edge of the village, a distance of a few hundred meters, and then we drove to Beit Amit Gate (Azzun Atma north) and realized how long the distance from the gate to the lands is. Escorting the people on the patrol road is certainly necessary.