It is the obligation of the military commander to defend the right of the residents to reach and cultivate their lands. This right of free access to the lands is not preconditioned to any permits. (From the Seamline Administration's website).
The village Hirbat Asla, in the district of Qalqiliya, owned 6000 dunams of land before the construction of the fence. Now, 70% of the land is trapped on the western side of the fence (the "Israeli" or the "Seamline", as it is called). An agricultural gate is installed in the fence a km to the west from the way that leads from the village to the lands. Through this gate the farmers are supposed to reach their plots. The gate is far from the lands and cannot be reached by a tractor or any other vehicle. So they have to make the rocky mountainous path on foot or on donkey, and thus they are practically prevented from cultivating their vineyards. The military does not allow young men, unless accompanied by the elderly, from crossing the gate to the lands. After school, the children are not allowed to help their parents. The majority of the people who got permits are landowners, with documentations, and had been approved by the administrative authorities, and yet their permits are seasonal only, instead of yearly. A landowner can get another seasonal permit for one family member of the first degree. A hired laborer does not get a permit.
The farmers have a right to reach and cultivate their lands, but the military commander who is supposed to defend this right decided that the gate will be opened three times per day: one hour in the morning, half an hour at noon and half an hour afternoon. Even if the gate is opened on time, it closes well before the appointed hour of closure. The soldiers let the people who arrived through and shut the gate after a few minutes (an excerpt from a letter to the Head of the Civilian Administration and to the Legal Military Attorney by Machsom Watch Team of the Seamline).
Hirbat Asla is not an isolated incident. There are 31 gates in the fence, according to the following categories:
- 16 seasonal gates that open at specific agricultural seasons. For olive harvesting, for instance, the gate opens for one week to three months.
- 10 dayly gates that open all year long, two-three times a day for a quarter to an hour each time.
- 3 gates allowing the "tissue of life", that are open all year long, 12 hours a day. These are usually passages between villages that have been divided, or villages which most of their land is left on the western side of the fence.
- 2 gates for a house that is left on the western side of the gate, and is intended for one or some families to pass.
The gates of the CP are open, but few pass. People are afraid that their permits would be confiscated, because they did not return on the same day or through the same gate. The permits are valid from 5 a.m. till 7 p.m. But these gates open only twice a week and close at 3 p.m. (A'anin 27.8)
People were reluctant to pass, because yesterday their permits were confiscated. (A'anin 2.8)
Fears of confiscation of permits. (A'anin 6.8)
Lately the military confiscates entry permits of people. (A'anin 23.8)
People are afraid of confiscation of permits because they did not return on the same day or through the same gate. (A'anin 27.8)
Only eight people passed this morning and seven have already returned. They know that a permit was confiscated from somebody, and everyone who waited before the gate, returned home and did not pass. (A'anin, 30.8)
Judge Major Menahem Lieberman convicted three youngsters from the village Ketana for "leaving the area without a permit" (meaning entrance into land that had been requisited by Israel for the construction of the Separation Fence) and sentenced them to 100 days in prison + three month on probation + a fine of 1000 Shekel. The father of one of the boys, 16 years old, got a permission to speak and explained that the fence, through which they crossed, is on their land, and his family cultivates it for generations. Even the previous year he worked on the land, which is now on the other side of the fence. The judge answered that the issue is not the fence but illegal entry into Israel. (Ofer military court, 6.9)
Rasmi Hatib, an invalid, was taken from his home in the village of el-Powar and had been arrested, on the charge of throwing a Molotov bottle. His father told, that on a previous hearing, the judge broke into the words of the prosecutor and wondered how the invalid was able to throw a bottle while he was unable to use his hand for his basic dayly tasks. He is now 19 years old and was severely wounded six years ago from a bullet fired into school. His case against the military is going on for six years in military court. The boy went through endless surgery operations and medical treatments during the period and has remained severely disabled, physically as well as mentally. His parents take care of him as for a little child, they told. (Ofer military court, 6.9)
"They will not go to El-Aqsa prayers even at the age of 90."
"Be grateful that I do not pull the trigger".
"I am the military, the police, the border police - everything".
As usual, a group of elderlies wait patiently, hoping that perhaps this week they will be allowed to attend the Friday al-Aqsa prayers... Talking with the commander of the CP it is obvious that their hope will not materialize. For 3-4 weeks even elderly people are not allowed to attend the Friday prayers.
"Even at 90, no one will reach the el-Aqsa without a permit", says the commander of the CP. (Sheikh Saad, 17.8)
At 17:00, we met several construction workers who were sitting in the hut to the north of Qalandiya and were waiting for transportation home. One told us that every day, he gets to Qalandiya at 4:30 in the morning. At that hour, only one lane is operating and the line stretches up to the parking lot. At 5:30, the rest of the gates are opened and then the lanes progress more quickly until everyone crosses by about 6:30 This group of workers travels to one of the building sites in Modiin, and generally gets there around 9:00 in the morning (even though the work day starts at 7:00 and they work until 3:00 If there are problems, the workers are afraid that because of the inconsistency in their work, they will be fired. They return to Qalandiya at 5:00 and travel another two hours until they get to their villages in the area of Nablus. (According to simple calculation, they scarcely manage to sleep in their own beds before they must get up once again at 2:30 in order to get to Qalandiya at 4:30 in the morning. (Qalandiya, 5.8)