Sun 16.12.12, Morning
We met Jamal, a resident of the village, who wanted to show us the new location of the gate in Jabara’s fence that had been repaired. The decision of the Supreme Court to move the fence back toward the Green Line is being implemented after many years, and all the lands of Jabara and Ar Ras village are being returned. Lands belonging to other villages, including Kafr Sur, still remain beyond the fence. The residents of Kafr Sur asked to be involved in the decision regarding the location of the new gate, so they wouldn’t have to drive many kilometers through the West Bank and then walk many kilometers through their own land.
The location they preferred was near their lands, next to Sla’it, or at a place they pointed out closer to Jabara, where the former separation fence meets the new one.
They said they weren’t consulted, only people from Jubara and Ar Ras, none of whose lands remained in the seam zone.
Following the tour I contacted ‘Adel, the head of the DCO, who claimed at first that he’d already done a tour. Later he decided to have residents of Kafr Sur contact him and Nabu’ani, who’s in charge of the fence, and they’ll listen to their claims in order to decide on the optimal location for a gate for the residents of Kafr Sur. Jamal and his colleagues will conduct another tour on 24.12.12 to determine the location of the gate, as promised.
We were invited after being contacted by Red Cross staff who reported that there were farmers whose lands were in Oranit and who hadn’t harvested their olives this year. We met the Asheikh family who said they own 86 dunams with 700 trees inside Oranit.
Since it’s necessary to coordinate security arrangements in order to enter Oranit, at the end of September they contacted the Palestinian DCO requesting permits and to make arrangements, but didn’t receive a response for a long time. Apparently as a result of pressure from the Red Cross and the Palestinian Authority they finally obtained permits for the remaining six family members, but only on 6.11.12. When they tried to reach their land they were told at the Oranit gate that they are required to coordinate with the army. They said that Nabu’ani arranged things with the army only on 21.11.12, but when they arrived with an additional family, that of Nazmi Asheikh, which also had about 40 dunams of land in Oranit, Nabu’ani refused to admit them.
Nazmi, the representative of the second family, said they weren’t allowed to enter with the first family, that of Ahmad Abu A’aous Asheikh, and were told they must come alone. Although Nazmi entered two days later with a military escort, on 22.11.12, he said no olives remained – some were on the ground and some had been stolen. Last year he’d picked dozens of sacks; this year he gathered only a sack and a half. He was very angry and wanted to find out whether he could sue the army for damages. We told him we’re not involved in such things, that the Palestinian Authority has Israeli attorneys available.
The story of the Asheikh family was more complicated – it transpires there’s an argument over the land. Settlers claim they bought it, and two years ago the head of the family was kidnapped by Palestinian collaborators living in Tayibeh to force him to sign a document relinquishing his rights. His son said they were able to prevent it at the last moment, but the controversy over the land is still continues.
We spoke to ‘Adel, the DCO head. He said that they weren’t allowed entry because of the legal dispute with the Israelis, and there’s an order to gather evidence in the field in order to resolve the controversy. Until then, they aren’t allowed to enter the area. But ‘Adel ordered Nabu’ani to deal with it in two weeks and hurry the “kashaf” process of collecting evidence, to which representatives of the families have been invited. I asked that family members be able to call to obtain information; he agreed. I notified Ahmad Asheikh, through his son, who speaks Hebrew, and was told he contacted his attorney and the Palestinian Authority to take care of the matter. The attorney, Fat’hi Shabita, an Israeli from Tira, who represents the Palestinian Authority, apparently decided to sue for damages and loss of the olive harvest because of the army’s delay and the investigation which they said should already have been conducted last year, prior to the harvest season.
They’re also complaining about the army’s delay in granting permits for November.
‘Adel says the requests weren’t submitted in time by the Palestinian DCO; the delay was due to their indifference.
The Palestinians are angry at Nabu’ani, whom they said treated them very rudely and wasn’t willing to listen to them.
They were pleased that ‘Adel got involved, and also asked to receive permits for two more laborers because they won’t be able to finish pruning and plowing in January. The request was denied for now and will be considered only after the controversy and the evidence are dealt wi th.