Tult and Biddya
09.15 Entrance to Azzun
Three Jeeps, seven soldiers, and the border police, stop cars coming out of the checkpoint. They inspect ID’s, and take about five minutes per car.
10.00 The village of Tult
We met the head of the village council and his chief administrator.
They quoted convincing facts which prove that Israel and the civilian administration in the Occupied Territories are not devoting the efforts needed to enable the Palestinians to cultivate their land in the, one of the civilian administration officers, who demonstrated his goodwill to help, but even this dissolved in the face of the bureaucracy, which is one of the occupation’s most efficient weapons.
The Palestinians are denied timely work permits, steps are taken to prevent mistakes from being corrected, and it is accepted as obvious that security considerations (which often have no basis whatsoever) are overriding. But when they prevent the Palestinians from reaching their land over the years they prepare the basis for it to be defined as state land, and later-on it will be transferred to the settlements.
The agricultural checkpoints, which are far from the Palestinians’ fields, are an addition to this bureaucracy. So it follows that the soldiers don’t open the agricultural checkpoints on time, or not at all for days at a time, and often each soldier decides whether he will allow these or other farmers to pass, and it is in his power to prevent farmers by his mere words from passing through the checkpoint.
Complaints from Tult :
1. This year 95 requests were made for work permits during the olive harvest, and only 55 were approved. They didn’t know about additional requests because some of the people have a permit for two years so they didn’t need to apply for one this year, and some applied directly via the Palestinian administration.
2. Many farmers received permits for the Khirbet Asla (?) gate, No 1263, instead of the Herbet Jil ‘ud (?) gate, No1419, and cannot reach their lands or have to walk for many hours to get there. They submitted requests for correcting the gate numbers but their applications are buried somewhere between the Palestinian liaison office and the Israeli administration
3. Similarly, they pointed out that elderly people receive permits but their nephews do not, because they either allegedly don’t have any rights to the land, or because of a security exclusion (which doesn’t have the slightest connection with any act in reality), or just without any answer.
4. According to them, the gates are opened early – at 04.30, but it appears from a check with the civil administration that the hours are different and were changed without informing many of the farmers who perhaps discover the opening hours by trial and error and not from their listing on the gate.
5. Their gate is not a permanentgate and thus open for a month and a half during the olive-harvest. Afterwards it is opened for a week during other agricultural seasons such as plowing, weeding, and spraying, and also during the spring in plots where there are almond and carob trees.
On many occasions they are not informed about the opening hours, and then it rains and they cannot those days, or the soldiers don’t open the gates at the times that were agreed. They asked us to request the army fix times
of about a month during each season so that they will not be dependent on the bureaucracy and the weather and other difficulties.
6. Every spring, the entire
length of the borders of the security path are sprayed in order to stop the growth of weeds which prevents the identification of footprints. The army sprays massively with a tractor, which also harms trees in plots that are near the security path, and there are trees there that have dried-up and died.
We met the new head of the village and his replacement, who is in the young and educated new generation, and is responsible for the management of the community during the present term of office. The village owns about 2000 dunams on the other side of the fence.
In this council, they don’t know how many requests for permits are made, because the people request them directly through the Palestinian administration.
Together with the above, we heard the story of the lands situated opposite the village of Adik. About two months ago the State issued a military order which prevents farmers who have land in that area from going there. According to the state, this concerns 2000 dunams of state land which will apparently be requisitioned for the purpose of setting-up a new settlement or for the expansion of Paduel.
A part of the land in this area is cultivated but the farmers cannot reach it, and another part, which is registered in the Tabu (land registration office) as belonging to Palestinians hasn’t been worked for years because it is rocky. About 12 years ago, there was a similar attempt but they succeeded in stopping it. However, this year the State has apparently exploited the fact that that a large part of the land hasn’t been cultivated and proclaimed that it is state land, and by this means requisitioned it. The lawyer who represents the farmers is Viyam Shavita, but it doesn’t lookas though he will succeed in preventing the confiscation. We have asked Dror Atex to investigate the matter.
Towards the end of the meeting, there appeared A.A., an elderly and impressive man whose opinion is apparently recognized and respected by the younger generation. With a powerful voice he protested against the continuing injustices and the aims of the Israeli government which has never desired a real and fair peace