Following the farmers’ complaints that they hadn’t received responses to their permit applications, and about a shortage of workers, we drove to the Deir el-Ghusun greenhouses in the seam zone.
Seven farmers awaited us, extremely agitated, and described the difficulties they confront in the seam zone:
- They wait for a very long time to receive responses to their applications for permits to work their land in the seam zone – often more than two or three months.
They wonder why the permit renewal process takes so long, when all the relevant data – the acreage, the number of existing permits for each plot, blacklistings, etc. – is available in the Israeli DCL computers.
- Although the strike has ended, a number of problems remains:
- The Palestinian liaison office submitted a few hundred applications that had piled up in the past two months, so the likelihood of a quick response is low – but they urgently require the permits to harvest fruits and vegetables and carry out other required tasks in the greenhouses and groves.
- The Palestinian liaison office in Tulkarm informed them that according to the instructions from the Israeli DCL only the landowner and wife, or his heirs, their children and the wives of their sons are allowed to apply for permits. The farmers aren’t allowed to submit applications for agricultural workers who aren’t family members.
Nor are people leasing land permitted to apply for permits, either for themselves or for the hired workers they need.
It’s a very serious problem, because most greenhouses owners must hire many laborers to harvest the fruits and vegetables they grow there and in their groves, and their family members aren’t always available or they work elsewhere or they’re incapable of such work, or their wives are taking care of children, the children are too young to work, etc.
Until now there hadn’t been such problems.Landowners and contractual lessees applied for permits for themselves and their workers, according to the procedures, and received them according to the acreage and the crop.
If they’re unable to hire workers they’ll lose the harvest and income, and the leased lands will be abandoned because the landowners themselves aren’t able to reach them.
They note that the Qalqilya DCL didn’t issue a regulation like that – the previous procedures are still applicable – and they were even told that in addition to permits for workers, family members would apparently also be granted permits.
We suggested they reapply via the village municipalities, because in that area the liaison office receives applications through the municipalities, not directly from the applicants, and we’ll also continue to look into it.
Of course, we suggested also contacting the hotline for the Defense of the Individual – but for reasons that aren’t clear to us, they say they don’t receive appropriate responses from them but are only put off and told they’re not able to help.
We also said we’d try other methods, contacting the office in Beit El and the Tulkarm DCL to try and speed things up, and we’ll update them.