Seam line, Siniriyya and Maschah
Meeting with village chief.
Unlike in the past, the requests for permits through the agricultural gates do not pass through the municipality; therefore, they don't have any information about the number of requests which were submitted they guess that about 80% of the applications were accepted. On the surface, everything seems to be in order, but then various farmers start to appear whose problems had not been solved. Here is an example: S. A., whose wife owns 18 dunams along the seam line but for the past 5 years they have not received permits. The answer to his request is a security problem. He says that, 5 years ago, he was caught within Israel and served 45 days in jail, and since then he has not received a permit. No one is working his land. Another person's wife alone has a permit, but she cannot go and harvest olives alone, she couold never complete the work. No one in the family has a permit. The reason given to the husband is that he does not own land over the fence. He brought new papers, but never even received an answer.
In all three of these cases, we turned to Sapha at the DCO, who is responsible for the operating of the gates. Sapha asked us to appeal to Avraham Abu Dik, who is responsible for communication with the Palestinians in Salfit. The latter two presented 2 new applications which were supposed to be dealt with by the Israeli DCO. Concerning the first one, he claimed to have a security problem. So we turned to Sapha again, who asked that we come and speak to him in person. Another 5 people asked us to intervene in their cases. There are also complaints about the theft of olives from their fields and also destruction of trees.
We met in the town hall with M.A., the town engineer, a young man who spoke fluent Hebrew(. How? From the children’s television channel! He has been working for the municiplity for about 7 months), together with the treasurer, A. A., also a young man. Also here, the applications do not pass through the municipality and thus they don't have any information about them. Some of the farmers own land in the area of Oranit.
The problems with the agricultural gates have to do with lack of keeping to the time schedule and also the short length of time given for the passage. They also need additional openings of the gates for operations of trimming and cleaning during January, March and May. We suggested they submit applications right away. The family of A.A., for instance, whose son is an accountant at the municipality and they need a special coordination with the IDF in order to enter their fields in Oranit. They receive permits, but only for the days of harvest and not for any other period during which agricultural work is necessary in the vineyards and olive orchards.
We agreed to clarify with them the exact periods, to pass the information along and do follow up. One of the brothers also presented a request and did not receive a permit without any explanation. The other who owned land in the area of‘Azzun ‘Atma need to pass through 2 gates: the entrance gate to the village of Azun Atmeh which is only for its own residents, and those from Beit Amin and Siniriyya, are allowed to use it in order to get to their lands; and Yoav gate, which is the checkpoint of ‘Azzun ‘Atma where we meet the agricultural workers. They complain that the soldiers and lazy and send people through the checkpoint very slowly.
One conversation brought us to the political question of which do you prefer - 2 states for 2 peoples or one state for all. Guess what the answer was?