Qaffin, Agricultural Gate No. 436
The villagers in Qaffin are allowed to reach their land through two checkpoints at the separation fence, gates 436 and 408.
Gate 436 opens 3 times a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) in the morning and in the afternoon. The villagers have to ascend to the gate and to show their ID cards to the soldier on time. Those who are late showing their ID cards after 7:30 are not permitted to cross.
If their permits are not confiscated and the soldier at the checkpoint decides that everything is all right they continue the ascent along the road between the fences until they reach the gate on the west side of the "separation fence". The gates close at 07:45.
We arrived at the checkpoint from the direction of Baka-al-Gharbiya on road 4x4 with the help of D.L. from kibbutz Metzer. The checkpoint which was supposed to open at 06:45 opened only at 06:58. The soldier (from the armored forces) mumbled something about something out of order. Until the first villagers arrived, we had a few words with the soldier who seemed to understand our reason for being there. He said he had never heard of Machsomwatch before.
Today, due to the delay (about which we informed the officer who arrived with his soldiers to lock the gates) and maybe also due to our presence at the gate – when A.S. from Qaffin asked the officer to let those through who hadn't had time to show their ID cardsuntil 07:30, he agreed. He repeatedly emphasized that this was a one-time gesture, and asked A.S. to explain the rules to the young villagers.
We received the phone numbers of some contact persons. We met two of them and also some young people who came through the gates. They made it very clear that thanks to us the crossing had been smooth, and asked us to come every morning.
Problems that were raised: Permits are not being renewed: Their estimate was that 60% of the permits that were granted during the olive picking season hadn't been renewed. Therefore, the pruning of the trees and the disinfestation of the weeds are delayed or not performed at all. The Palestinian DCO has broken off its connection with the Israeli DCO due to the minimal number of permits they receive; 25 permits per 1000 applications. Many Palestinians are blacklisted by the General Security Service, and then the words "in spite of prevention" have to appear on the permit.
One of the personal stories: 3 weeks ago the permit of N.H. from Qaffinwas confiscated at Checkpoint 436. The officer we met at the checkpoint told us that he had confiscated the permit because the words "in spite of prevention" didn't appear. Since then, when N.H. asks the DCO for his permit the answer he gets (both from the Palestinians and from the Israelis) is that he has a two-year permit (according to the computer). In the meantime, the permitis nonexistent.
Gate 408 is supposed to open at 06:00 in the morning. It is closer to the part of Qaffin called Aqabah. We agreed with A.S. that next time we come to Qaffin he will go with us to the gates at Aqabah and Nazlat-Issa. They want the presence of Machomsomwatch at these gates because all kinds of problems always arise.