The status of the permits and a solidarity demonstation

As we know, the strike of the Palestinian DCO workers has been over for more than a month now. Since then, about 3000 applications for renewing entry permits into the seamline zone around Jenin, Qalqiliya and Tulkarm have been submitted. According to information received by phone, interrupted at times and still to be looked into – I hope to obtain clearer information this week – only 100-300 permits have been approved. Even these are in fact a cynical joke for their holders are usually farmers aged 60-70 who receive the permits for two years, whereas their able-bodied sons received two-month permits, forcing them to enter the entire cycle of application and waiting very soon.  Furthermore, apparently a new application form has been issued and therefore in many places people have been required to submit all their applications anew.

All of this involves great expenses which the farmers can hardly afford. As a result, the greenhouses are drying out without produce, fruit tree groves are not tended and olive trees that need summer tending of weeding and thinning in order to prevent fires – all of this is at a standstill.

All the attempts to speak with the Israeli DCO officials in Qalqiliya and Tul Karm, at the Beit El HQ and elsewhere have been in vain!!! They do not answer.

The Palestinians, trying to receive answers from the Palestinian as well as the Israeli DCOs, are sent back and forth every day, and thus waste whole days waiting around in vain. PA officials are not more successful at obtaining satisfactory answers to the question why, in spite of the promise they received that matters will be taken care of rapidly, nothing happens. It is known that the team processing permits has been replaced and the new officials are learning their job… Only two weeks ago they have apparently begun to do so. The situation is simply dire!!

Palestinians around Tulkarm have given up applying officially, and wish to hold a quiet protest, a sit-in demonstration rather than go to work, in solidarity with their farmer brothers and neighbors, a step that will hopefully wake up the army to process their permits a moment before they lose their lands and livelihood. They wish to hold this demonstration on Sunday July 9, at 7 a.m. and are asking us to come and demonstrate with them. The exact details will be posted during the week – please save the date.

We must not let the army and the Civil Administration – who promised to look out for them – harass the farmers and cause them to lose their lands.