'Atil, Deir al-Ghusun
07:00 Agricultural gate 623 – Deir el Ghusun
A blank, faded yellow sign on the checkpoint gate neither states its hours nor presents any other information!!!
About 100 farmers wait to cross to their fields in the morning, some on foot, some with carts and tractors. To avoid pushing they distribute numbers among themselves and each one enters in turn. They say the gate should open at 07:00, but according to the DCL schedule, the hours are 07:15-07:45.
We asked whether there were farmers who weren’t allowed through – they said there haven’t been any problems recently at the checkpoint. They suggest we inquire in the town about blacklisted farmers and laborers.
Some have already begun harvesting their olives.
Meanwhile, until the checkpoint opens, some are buying pita and falafel, coffee and tea at an improvised stand, established by some of the villagers who don’t go through the checkpoint but must still make a living…
07:15 The soldiers open the gate. Groups of five go through relatively quickly.
The tractors enter last, according to the arrangement among the farmers.
At 07:45 the gate closes.
All crossed except for a young farmer whose permit expired the previous day. He tried his luck because the olives were waiting, but was refused. He’d applied a week ago at the municipality and is awaiting a new permit.
08:15 Deir el Ghusun
B. is a municipal employee responsible for receiving permit applications. He says the procedure in the village is to submit villagers’ applications to the municipality, which transmits them in a batch to the Palestinian DCL, receive the permits and distribute them to the villagers. They keep a careful list and keep track of problems. They charge NIS 10 for the service.
He showed us the forms:
Application forms: In the past each farmer submitted a separate application. For the past year the landowner has submitted an application along with documents proving their ownership and the names of the persons – family member s and laborers – they are requesting permits for, along with photocopies of their ID cards.
The permits are given to the landowner.
Rejected applications: On the rejected applications, various categories appear of the reasons for denial, in Hebrew with Arabic translation, including, for example, Shabak blacklisting, not a legitimate owner of the land, enough permits granted, etc.
The forms that are returned to farmers whose applications were denied have a checkmark next to the relevant reason.
We provided the telephone number of Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual for farmers who wished to appeal the refusal. We also left our phone number, should it be needed.
Permits for olive harvest: He says that now 40-60 applications are received every two to three days from all members of the family who want to participate in the harvest, participation in which is a tradition, and most are approved within a few days – of 100 applications, 60 have been approved and he’s awaiting answers with regard to the others. The permits are valid for two months, from October 1 to November 30 at the latest.
The municipal building is modern and very grand. It was built with money from USAID, apparently because Salam Fayyad, the former Prime Minister, is from the village…
It would have been better for the Americans to have invested in enterprises that provided employment to the residents near their homes, and with fair wages. But Israel apparently prevents that and the Americans, like the Europeans, don’t dare intervene in the policies of the occupation regime.
The head of the municipality notes that in ‘Athil applications are submitted directly to the Palestinian DCL. Palestinians whose applications are denied often turn to the municipality for help.
But he calls one of the clerks who apparently has additional information, who says that during the past two weeks farmers had submitted 20 applications for the olive harvest but as of now only 4 were approved, and there has been no response to the others.
We suggested they be in contact with us or with Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual if they don’t hear by next week.
The head of the municipality doesn’t understand the inconsistency between the fact that people aged 55 and older are permitted to enter Israel simply by showing their ID card, but they require a permit to go through an agricultural checkpoint.
Occupation logic? What’s to understand? But we promised to look into it…