Habla

Observers: 
Dalya K., Hani S., Bella R., Dalya G., Dvorka A. (reporting),Translator: Charles K.
23/08/2015
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Morning

Agricultural gatesinfo-icon, Habla municipality, ‘Izbet Salman majlis, four villages in the area, Jaloud, Beit Amin,

 

The agricultural gates which until recently served the villages of Jaloud, ‘Izbet Salman, Beit Amin and ‘Azzun ‘Atma have been closed.  Only Gate 1447 remains, in the fence below Oranit, for farmers and laborers living along the fence by the road between Habla and Beit Amin.

In order to reach his land a farmer without a vehicle must walk a long way before going through the checkpoint, and then walk additional kilometers before arriving at his land and start working.

 

We found considerable anger in Habla at the soldiers’ humiliating treatment of Palestinians going through the checkpoint, which has been going on for a long time.

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On our shift we visited both villages and checkpoints.

 

Villages:  The Habla municipality, the Izbet Salman majlisthat comprises four villages:  ‘Izbet Salman, ‘Izbet Jaloud, ‘Izbet Al-Mudawwar,‘Izbet Al-Askar.

Agricultural gates:  Along the fence between Habla and ‘Azzun ‘Atma, near ‘Izbet Salman, Jaloud, Beit Amin. (A continuation of the effort begun in the previous shift on 18.8.15 to locate gates)

 

10:45  Habla.  Signs directed us to the municipal building.  It’s new, well-designed, donated by the German government.  The careful planning of the “Service Center” for villagers on the ground floor emphasizes the welcome applicants receive.

 

The director of the “Service Project” greeted us warmly, as did the head of the municipality who was in his elegant office meeting with other people.

We didn’t want to interrupt but R., the head, generously invited us to sit and immediately after brief introductions a conversation began in Hebrew.  He recognized us and mentioned he’d met some of us at A.’s, in the plant nursery.

He tells us:  More than 800 dunums were taken from villagers.  They’re still required from time to time to give up land to build a road or to install electrical equipment, but they refuse to accept monetary compensation in order to avoid seeming to have sold the land.

 

The settlers don’t harass them and the army doesn’t enter the village, but our hosts have very harsh things to say about the soldiers operating the checkpoint.  Other Palestinians said the same thing when we reached the Palestinian side of the checkpoint.  There’s a great deal of anger at the contempt and disrespect with which they treat people going through.

 

Someone arriving at the checkpoint who is unable to wait may – if he has a permit – cross through Checkpoint 109, the Eliyahu gate.  Permits and access to their land is what concerns the head of the municipality.  He himself is a businessman, with permits, and can go through the Habla checkpoint in his car to the seam zone, and also through the Eliyahu gate.  He’s unhappy that many people aren’t granted permits to work in Israel, and 40 percent of the villagers are unemployed.

 

Agricultural crossing permits:  R. explains that members of the immediate family are usually allowed access to the lands, but not necessarily laborers.

We gave R. our phone number and Sylvia’s, as we normally do, and promised to return in a month or two.

 

11:45  We continued, and drove along the fence.

Our goal was to complete our inspection of the agricultural gates and the opportunities available to villagers between Habla and ‘Azzun ‘Atma to access their lands, a project we began last week, on 18.8.15.

We investigated which gates were open for farmers to reach their lands in the Oranit area.

Based on what we saw, and what the Palestinians told us, the agricultural gates which until recently served the villages of Jaloud, ‘Izbet Salman, Beit Amin and ‘Azzun ‘Atma have been closed.

Only Gate 1447 in the fence below Oranit remained and allows access to famers and laborers living by the fence along the road from Habla to Beit Amin.

A farmer without a vehicle must walk a long way before going through the checkpoint, and then walk additional kilometers to reach his land before arriving and starting to work. 

Again we stopped to photograph beside the “lake” of sewage between the road and the track to the checkpoint – the “agricultural gate” – and again the sewage flows by the roadside, next to an open pipe from which the sewage from Oranit flows to the outskirts of Beit Amin.

We continued to‘Izbet Salman.

 

12:20  The majlis in ‘Izbet Salman.  With Nadim’s help we managed almost surreptitiously to locate the small office administering the group of four villages ‘Izbet Salman, ‘Izbet Jaloud, ‘Izbet Al-Askar and Al-Mudawwar.

We met A., the acting secretary.

A warm welcome, as usual.  He told us a little about the four villages in response to our questions.  Their populations range from a few hundred to more than 1000.

Israel took at least 150 dunums from ‘Izbet Salman.

Residents make a living from raising guavas and olives, and growing za’atar.  Many work in Israel.

We asked what had changed since the road through ‘Azzun ‘Atma had been moved and the fence completed.  He said that until now people without permits to work in Israel could enter through holes in the fence and make a living, though in Israel illegally.  Now it’s impossible.  Those with permits go through the Eyal checkpoint.

 

Here too, those with land beyond the fence cross through Gate 1447.  The problem is that it opens around 08:00, while the farmers must begin working at 04:00.  The gate opens also around 13:00 and 17:00.

 

The village obtains water from a well in ‘Izbet Salman.  It’s operated by a private company.  Mekorot hasn’t been able to take it over.  The water costs NIS 100/flow-hour.  Farmers pay one shekel per cubic meter. 

 

13:05  We reached the Palestinian side of the Habla checkpoint.  A few Palestinians waited for it to open.

 

13:25  On the Israeli side.  A few people are waiting.

 

The soldiers had just arrived and opened the gates.