Deir al-Ghusun, Hothouses CP (609), Olive CP (623)
[We organized our observation vigil according to the report of 30.9.15 by Pitzi, Dalia G. and Nurit P., who also prepared maps.]
*The Farmers' Gate 609 in Deir al-Ghusun will not be closed after a protest strike, which was organized by the land-owners who use it, was held opposite the DCO.
*Confused and absurd policies for receiving permits to pass through the farmers' gates: There are humiliating rules for receiving permits for passing through the farmers' gates. The point of the rules seems to be to prevent Palestinians from using the gates for any purpose other than to farm the land in the seam area.
12:30 Deir al-Ghusun
We reached the Council building, which seemed to be empty, but within minutes several men gathered – A. chairman of the Council, L. who has Israeli citizenship, M. who speaks some Hebrew, and another 4 men. We presented ourselves and said that we had come to learn about the situation of the 'farmers' gates', and that this information would be passed on to the organization "Yesh Din", which is gathering testimonies in order to attend to the threat of the Civil Administration to close the 'farmers' gates' along the separation fence. The men we talked to said that they had contact with "The Center for the Protection of the Individual" which is also trying to help them.
The good news was that about two weeks ago the people of the village held a strike by gate 609, which was reported to be one that would be closed. They argued their case with the DCO, and, as of now, the threat of closing is off. 2500 dunams of land belonging to the villagers is in the 'seam area', (the land between the fence and the 'green line'.)
The Farmers' Gates: Two of our hosts accompanied us to the gates and continued to explain.
13:30 Gate 623
150 persons are permitted to go through the gate to their olive groves. The gate is opened by the soldiers three times each day.
Opening hours: 7:00, 13:30, 16:00 The gate is kept open for 1/2 hour.
The soldiers usually arrive a little late by several minutes. This time also they arrived at 13:40. Usually the time that the gate is open allows everyone to go through, but during the olive harvest time there are many more people lined up and the gate is kept open longer.
14:15 Gate 609
350 persons have permits to go through this gate.
Opening hours: 6:30, 12:45, 3:30
We got there after it was already closed. (Only after we got there we learned that it opens earlier than Gate 623.) Close by the gate and the barbed-wire fence along the gravel path leading to it were the plastic covered hot-houses for growing vegetables. We were told that some of the hot-houses belonged to farmers from Deir al-Ghusun, and some to farmers from Attil, (the neighboring village.)
The rules for passage through the gates:
1. Anyone who comes late, even a minute after it closes, will have to wait until the next opening.
2. The soldiers carry out checks of the clothing of those going through. Anyone having more than 50 shekels on him is not permitted to pass, because that is a sign that he is not really coming to farm, but is going to work in Israel.
3. If someone is dressed in neat, 'good' clothes, he is not permitted to pass, because that too is a sign that he has not come to farm, but to go into Israel.
4. A Palestinian may take only a small amount of food with him, otherwise he will not be permitted to pass.
We asked the soldiers at the gate to explain the point of these prohibitions. They agreed that that's the way it is. They only corrected the amount of money that a person is permitted to take with him; the soldiers said that above 100-150 shekels was not permitted. There is a discrepancy in the amount of money allowed. They politely explained that there was a case where a Palestinian passed through the gate as if to work in his grove, and later came back with an amount of peppers in his possession, heaven forbid. This was a sign that he hadn't gone to work in his grove, but rather had gone to Israel! And that means that he could get to the center of the country….
We asked the Palestinians about the behavior of the soldiers towards them at the gates. The answer was, "Come once early in the morning and you'll see. But don't get out of your car, so they won't see you, because if they see you they will behave differently…."
Something more that was told to us about the permits:
According to our hosts: There is no logic in the way the permits are given.
-Someone who owns a lot of land might get a permit for 2 months, and someone who owns 100 meters might get a permit for 2 years.
-A landowner who asks for a permit for members of his family also, may sometimes get the permit. Sometimes he may be told that they 'have something on him', which means that he is prohibited by the security service from getting a permit. They may write on his request "not related", that the persons for whom he is requesting a permit are not related to him even if he is requesting for a son or a brother. This is what happened with the son of M.
The general situation:
To our question whether there are any special problems in the village M. answered:
There are no settlers in our area and so there is no harassment. The army comes in from time to time, but stays only for a while. Sometimes there are arrests. About a month ago there were some problems in a neighboring village, Al Jarushiya. The army put a barrier on Deir al-Ghusun as well and blocked our exit to Tulkarem.
(More details about the village can be found in the report by Dalia Golomb from 30/9/15.)
(All of the English spelling of the names of the Palestinian villages is according to the OCHA map of the West Bank from 2010.)