'Azzun, Eliyahu Crossing, Falamiya, Habla, Kufr Jammal, Mon 5.12.11, Morning

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Dafna S., Rony S. (reporting), Charles K. (translator)

06:58 – Habla

The soldiers arrived before 07:00 and opened the gatesinfo-icon.

07:01  The first five people entered; they came out three minutes later.  The next group crossed in four minutes; inspection is quick, no delays.

07:21  Thirty Palestinians have already crossed.

The children’s bus arrives late, when we’re already leaving; we don’t see the second bus anywhere along the way to checkpoint 109.

07:30  Checkpoint 109 (Eliyahu)

A long line of cars, but settlers go through quickly.  Two cars being inspected in the pen.  From where we’re standing we can’t see how many laborers are waiting to enter, but only a few are in front of the revolving gates.

07:37  A white car and two pickup trucks are sent to the pen for inspection.  They emerge about eight minutes later.  We also saw a pickup truck carrying laborers whom we saw entering; they came out after about seven minutes.

07:50  We left.

07:58  Soldiers in a jeep watch the road at the entrance to Izbet Tabib; soldiers with weapons drawn also watch the road on the way to Azzun.

08:10  Falamiya agricultural gate

As usual, few people cross at this hour.  A man on a donkey, a tractor, people on a truck and a few people on foot.  Later, at Kufr Jammal, we’ll understand why so few people cross here.

08:25  We leave.

08:40  Kufr Jammal

We went to our friend Z.’s grocery, where some farmers awaited us; we’d asked to meet them to hear exactly why they’re unable to get to their olive groves on the other side of the security fence.  Almost everyone applying for a permit for the Falamiya agricultural gate, which most residents of Kufr Jammal use to reach their lands, receives it.  But their lands are farther away; most of them are located between the Sal’it gate and the Falamiya gate, more or less opposite the area between the settlement of Sal’it and Moshav Tzur Natan on the Green Line, all the way to Tzur Yig’al, also on the Green Line.  Until last summer the farmers could enter through the Falamiya gate and drive north on the security road to a spot more or less opposite their lands, where five small gates in the fence gave them access.  Last summer the gates were locked and opened only in the morning during the olive harvest season so farmers could enter.  The farmers were then locked in until the evening when the gates were reopened so they could get to the Falamiya gate before it closed, cross and return home.

About a month ago the soldiers “forgot” to return in the afternoon to open one of the gates.  The Palestinians were, of course, under a great deal of pressure, and it took them a long time to get out by climbing over rocks, fences and boulders.  One of them, the owner of a tractor, couldn’t remove it, of course and was forced to leave it there.  When he returned the next morning the soldiers had again “forgotten” to come open the gate.  He apparently tried to open the gate, soldiers who “by chance” were passing at that moment confiscated his permit to cross at Famalya, as well as similar permits of five other farmers, and now he can’t cultivate his za’atar fields either.  As of today, despite repeated promises by T., the crossings officer, and by the head of the DCO, their permits haven’t been returned and they can’t work their lands.

Those farmers who have permits for the Falamiya gate, but whose lands are located beyond the locked gates, haven’t been able to reach and cultivate them since last summer.  They say there are 500-600 people from Kufr Jammal in the same situation.  The owner of the tractor drew a diagram showing the area and even gave me his ID number, and that of his wife; their permits had been taken.  Three other farmers also gave me their details and asked us to help them take care of the problem.  We obviously didn’t make any promises; they also know that our abilities are limited, but I gave all the information to Tami and we’ll follow up and see what develops.

We couldn’t part, of course, without tea/coffee.

We started for home.