Protest against restricting the issue of transit permits
The Palestinian farmers hold a spontaneous protest in response to the reduction in the number of permits issued to them to cross the Separation Fence into their farm lands
After certain coordination efforts we arrived at this checkpoint at 11 a.m. in order to demand to speak with a senior Israeli officer – several weeks ago the Palestinians were promised that the problems would be handled, and they have only become more difficult since then. On the spot were mainly representatives of the farmers from the villages themselves (the farmers were at work) and chairmen of local councils and their employees. That is why upon our arrival we saw a few cars standing by the road and about 15 men and one woman standing there, facing a jeep with soldiers, two regular soldiers with their weapons loaded and at the ready and the deputy DCO Commander Walid who spoke with them in Arabic. M. from Qalqiliya approached us – he organized the demonstration. He is a fluent English speaker, and introduced us to the people there.
We also made the acquaintance of the Deputy Chairman of Jayyus local council. According to him, night and day the army conducts incursions into the village and tries to locate children who throw stones at the Separation Fence. It makes life in the village very difficult and the children are extremely frightened.
Suddenly a Border Police jeep arrived, and four soldiers disembarked, armed with teargas rifles, canisters and helmets. After a few minutes, when they realized there would not be a riot necessitating teargas they remained without their helmets, just with the rifles. It was a bit disappointing to see how few the demonstrators were, when suddenly a yellow cab stopped by us, a TV crew got off, one man holding the camera and the other - a microphone, likely from the local television news net. The vrew interviewed the people and filmed us.
At the same time the discussion continued between the farmers and the Deputy DCO Commander, for many minutes, in Arabic. The farmers’ despair was obvious in their voices, and Walid (after a phone consultation) told them briefly that next week on Wednesday he will speak with their representatives and find a solution.
Two friendly Norwegian girls arrived on the scene, having heard of the improvised demonstration and living with Jayyus villagers, they help farmers and their children, and they too told us about the army incursions in the village and their effect on the villagers. They wondered why we were there and promised to read up on Machsomwatch.
The demonstration disbanded without an essential solution, and I feel that nothing will be solved, nor will next Wednesday bring any news.
Walid turned to go and told us in Hebrew that farmers who own over 5 dunams (registered) may come to the DCO and receive a permit. He hurried to his car and a second before he closed his door I chased him and literally grabbed his door, asking what happens with people own less than 5 dunams. He did not answer. I asked him what happens with those who lease the land? He muttered something and repeated the word “land ownership registration”. I asked what happens in other DCOs, could the farmers here tell their friends from Atil village to come too, and would the procedure he mentioned be identical for DCO Efrayim? He did not answer… In short, it remains unclear whether the procedures will be changed. Let’s hope for good news next week.
12:10 We left and turned to Omar’s nursery where we had a conversation with Omar over a cup of tea, about the occupation and other interesting matters.