Kufr Thulth, Nabi Ilyas
Seam zone, Kufr Thulth, Nabi Ilyas
09:00 Kufr Thulth
At the municipality we meet P.S., the head of the village, and A.P., the secretary.
A.P. tells us that two months ago they received a military order (we have a copy) designating 12,000 dunums in the area as a military zone, including 224 dunums belonging to Kufr Thulth, and subsequently specifying they’re intended for the outpost of “El-Matan” (which was recently recognized as a legal locality), for the purposes of construction, tourism and public facilities such as parks and schools. All for the benefit of the settlement, which today has only a few pre-fabs. It’s already being dealt with by attorneys so we didn’t go into it.
(From Walla, 20.12.14): “…The government intends to legalize the illegal outpost El-Matan, next to the Ma’aleh Shomron settlement, legitimize it and recognize it as an “artists’ village”, Wallah! News has learned. This follows the approval last week of the legitimatization of El-Matan by the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. General Moti Almoz. Some twenty families live at the outpost, established in 2000 on state land, but according to the “Settlements” report of Attorney Talya Sasson, the location never received formal approval from the Ministry of Defense or from the government, and is considered an illegal outpost. That didn’t prevent government ministries from investing NIS 850,000 on infrastructure, most of it from the Ministry of Housing and Construction”)
The villagers raised the following issues:
1. Kufr Thulth is served by Gate 1262, a seasonal gate that recently opened for two weeks at the end of December and the beginning of January, from Sunday through Thursday. Heavy rains fell during those weeks and for one week people didn’t work their lands. They asked that the gate be open an additional week for seasonal work but still haven’t received an answer.
2. Recently people have been receiving permits to gates they hadn’t applied for, distant gates that don’t provide access to their lands – for example, Eliyahu Crossing 109 and Habla checkpoint which aren’t close at all. Three weeks ago they requested the permits be changed but haven’t yet received an answer.
3. They ask to be permitted to access their land with vehicles to shorten the time it takes to reach them and transport agricultural equipment for the seasonal work. They say they are permitted to take tractors through but it often depends on the willingness of the soldiers and not everyone has a tractor.
4. They ask that the gate be open on the weekend so people can carry out farm work like, for example Gate 1360, Wadi Rasha, which opens every Saturday.
5. In 2014 143 applications for annual permits were submitted through the municipality and 106 for the olive harvest, and only 82 were granted. That represents a significant worsening in granting applications.
11:15 Nabi Ilyas
We meet J.H., the village head, and B.H., his assistant.
The villagers complain of delays in responding to applications for permits. For example, one person reports he applied one and one-half months ago and still hasn’t received an answer. They also complain that people blacklisted by the Shabak were promised a meeting with the Israeli administration so they can ask that the blacklisting be lifted so they can work in the agricultural area but the promise hasn’t yet been kept.
A serious sewage problem concerns the village which no longer has vacant land for construction, and its master plan, without which they can’t begin laying new sewerage, has been purposely delayed by the Israeli authorities for two years.
Nabi Ilyas is choked between Alfei Menashe, which was constructed on land belonging to Nabi Ilyas, to its south, and Tzufin to the north. All the construction reserves were used to construct buildings 3-4 storeys high where families, children and grandchildren crowd together. Nabi Ilyas has also appealed in the Supreme Court to move the fence in order to recover land that the fence cut off. Part of the fence was relocated when the Jayyus fence was moved and the lands there were returned; their past success motivated them to stand their ground.
We go up to the roof and see the pastoral landscape of well-cared-for olive groves and adjacent green fields, a view sliced by the fence as by a knife , the olive groves beyond it abandoned for the benefit of the residents of Alfey Menashe. Their legal owners must walk 3.5 kilometers to reach and cultivate them