Micky Fischer


I stayed with friends at the village of Jayyous, and together we drove out to see the agricultural checkpoints in the area.


06:35 Jayyous agricultural checkpoint 935 (Falamiyya south)

The checkpoint opened on time and two farmers with tractors and several family members were already there. They handed the Military Police their IDs, they were checked and their data verified and then they all went back to the tractor and crossed the checkpoint. In total 12 farmers crossed with tractors and family members, including children (on school holiday), who joined their parents to work in the field and enjoy nature and get know their ancentral land. In our talk with the farmers they remarked that the present soldiers there were alright, not heaping obstacles or problems, but they noted that some farmers were having a very difficult time obtaining entry permits. Personally I heard the woman-soldier using a very lofty and commanding voice as she ordered the farmers to “Get back! Get in line! I’ll decide when you approach!...” etc. These are the small details that contain the occupation in its entirety. We left at 07:10 in order to make it in time to the next checkpoint.


07:25 Agricultural Checkpoint Jayyous South 1012

The checkpoint, due to open at 07:20, is still closed. Waiting - a farmer with his donkey and family. The Palestinian DCL notified the farmers that the checkpoint would be operating again and indeed it was opened on Friday. The farmers complain they are still forbidden to have their flocks cross with them to graze in the seam-line zone. Furthermore there are relatively few farmers using this checkpoint, because it leads only to a few plots of land that are rainwater-irrigated.


07:30 I called the regional brigade war-room to inform them that the checkpoint has not yet been opened. They checked and noted that there must have been some problem at the previous checkpoint (935) and that was the reason for the delay.


07:45 The soldiers arrive and open the checkpoint. Farmers are checked and cross without problems. The soldiers close and leave the place within 10 minutes, even though they are supposed to remain there for 20 minutes.


09:15 Meeting with local council chairman Ghassan Haraisha

According to the chairman, the council no longer processes applications for permits to cross the agricultural checkpoints, because of its heavy assignment load. Instead, the council forwards the applications to the Palestinian DCL in Qalqiliya. It intervenes when the delay in receiving the permit drags out for an extremely long time. That is why he has no orderly statistics on the number and fate of such applications. The council does take care of applications for tradesmen who need to work in areas within the seam-line zone. Furthermore, he says that when the Separation Fence was moved back a year and a half ago, 2000 dunams were returned to the Palestinians, but there are still 4000 dunams remaining of farmlands trapped within the seam-line zone. In these lands farmers grow fruit trees such as citrus, avocado, and loquat (that need irrigation), and oregano and vegetables in hothouses.


In the seam-line zone three active wells remain and water is still being supplied by using gasoline-operated pumps. He asks our help (having already turned to Yesh Din and B’Tselem) in switching to electrically-powered pumps as well as building an additional metal water reservoir in the seam-line zone. He says the farmers’ expenses on water would be reduced by 50% as for the well that passed over to Palestinian possession, and this would also enable remote control of the water supply. Farmers complain of the gap in water bills between plots of land in the seam-line zone compared to those that were returned to the Palestinians.


He told us that on August 14, 2014, at a meeting of all village councils of the area, then chief of the Civil Administration David Nahum made constant promises but did nothing. The present head of the Civil Administration, Raem Falah, according to the council chairman, signed the documents but the officers serving under him (N. and A.) refuse to ratify. I promised to try and check what could be done.

At this point Hannah Barag called N, the officer directly in charge, and he told her that the Civil Administration denies neither the facts nor the promises it has made, but their hands were tied. In order to receive permits for passage to, and work in the seam-line zone, application should be made through the Palestinian DCL to the Israel Electricity Company and National Water Administration and receive their okay for implementing the change. He said that the Palestinians have been sent a letter written in Arabic and detailing the procedure. I passed on this information to the council chairman through an interpreter and was told that he had never heard of such a letter, and will look into it. I was promised they would update me and then we shall see how to proceed.


Army action inside Jayyous Village during the night between February 13 and 14, 2016

At 10 p.m., I heard from inside the house where I was staying the sounds of stun grenades, and later teargas canisters were hurled as well. The inhabitants are accustomed to this happening at least once or twice a week. The army provokes and holds patrols inside the jeep for no reason at all. Children and youths naturally get angry and throw stones at the totally protected army vehicles, and then the army responds with live fire. On Thursday someone was even wounded in the leg. The inhabitants refrain from reporting on Facebook or other communication media, for every such entry causes the army to hold arrests among the wounded and their families. Horrific occupation routine. Inside Israel, every rocket that hit an empty lot makes major headlines in all the media. Here, in every village of the West Bank – nothing is reported, as if nothing ever happened. As if this was just a normal part of reality.


Every one of us is invited to offer her family members to live even a single week under such occupation routine. I suggested this to my relatives, but unfortunately they too are captive of Israel’s ‘security’ concepts, claiming that the Palestinians have brought this upon themselves, and there is no comparison between Jews and Palestinians, who are terrorists by definition, whereas we… only defend ourselves.


Seasonal agricultural checkpoints

Over a month ago I was approached by people from the village of Tult to help open the seasonal checkpoint for plowing and pruning work that is now necessary. They applied for permits through the Palestinian DCL but were not answered. An initial reply of the Civil Administration officer H. was that these checkpoints are open all year round at set times etc.


In my experience of past years – there have never been set times for the farming seasons (the topic was even raised at the meeting which Machsomwatch members held with representatives of the DCO). Eventually, after various reminders by Machsomwatch members, such as Shoshi and Tami, apparently only two weeks ago a first meeting was held on the subject by the Palestinian DCL in Qalqiliya and the Israeli Civil Administration, where the decision was taken to open on February 22, 2016 for six days only. There’s no telling what happened in the meeting itself, but it’s likely that the army sets the dates that are convenient for it and the Palestinian DCL affirms them without contesting. All this when last week the weather was perfectly good for plowing and pruning and this week, rains are expected… But who counts the Palestinians.


The junior officers of the Israeli DCO do understand and make personal efforts to help as much as they can within the limits of their duty, but no more than that. If they go beyond that limit set by the ruling policy, they might jeopardize themselves. And so the Occupation digs deeper and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.