Falamiya North Checkpoint (914)
Agricultural Gate Falamiya North
"Where else in the world does a farmer need a permit to reach his land to work it?"
This was the queston Ali Zaid from Falamiya asked me while , at dawn, we were waiting for the arrival of the soldiers. Why don't they open the gate in the fence which separates between the land of the village and the farmers who work it?
At 21:30 on Saturday night I received a phone call from A. in Falamiya. After the strike a week ago, Naif from the DCO in Qalqiliya had promised to tell him about the decision regarding the opening of the gate in the evening. All the week he had tried to contact Naif, but he (of course) hadn't responded and neither had anyone else from the DCO. Therefore, they had decided to strike again on Sunday morning and he asked us to be present at the gate.
I looked for somebody to accompany me and, at last, at 22:00, Nura agreed, although she was supposed to be at a lecture about Machsomwatch at the Kibbutz Seminar in the morning. We reached the gate on Sunday morning at 05:30. Some people and tractors were already there. The soldiers arrived at 05:50. But most of the farmers refused to cross. A., their leader, asked the soldiers to close the gate. The soldiers went to speak with the officer in charge and returned with the answer that they had to keep the gate open. Some of the farmers began to cross but the majority remained loyal to the decision to strike. When the villagers supporting the strike closed the inner gate in front of the fence an argument broke out between them and the tractor drivers who demanded to be let through. At the gate, confusion was great, some of the tractors crossed and others turned back. I felt sorry that their little rebellion was going to fail because of a disagreement.
At this stage, we called the DCO to report about the riot at the gate and to suggest they send an officer to talk with the striking Palestinians. I didn't agree to speak in the name of the strikers and to explain their demands. Later on, I tried to call Naif and another number on my list.
After negotiating between themselves most of the Palestinians didn't cross the gate and the soldiers closed it. A. said that the conclusion was to prepare the villagers better the evening before telling them that no one would be let through. They decided to strike again next Sunday.
On our way back, officer Noy called me. She told me that she had heard my message and asked what the riot had been about. At least, she listens. I told about Naif's attitude towards the Palestinians and asked if she could "push" him a bit. The result was that Naif called A. at noon the same day to promise him that they would consider their request. After having checked with A. this morning it appears that Naif called him on Thursday to tell him that from Monday there will be new opening hours at the Falamiya gate.
We'll wait and see!!!