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The military refused to allow a Palestinian farmer to access his plots inside the “seam zone”, claiming he was a “Hamas activist”: after a petition was filed to the HCJ, the military withdrew its objection and gave the farmer a two-year permit

A Palestinian from the Azzun 'Atmah village owns farmland trapped inside the “seam zone”, west of the separation wall. On November 11, 2014, the man filed an application via the Palestinian Liaison Office to enter the “seam zone” to cultivate his land. Two weeks later, the Palestinian Liaison officials notified him that the Israeli side had rejected his application by reason of an “impediment by the Israel Security Agency” (ISA), and nothing more. Contrary to the provisions of “Standing Orders for the Seam Zone”, the military did not provide him with a written refusal detailing the grounds for the decision. When he tried to discover the reason for the refusal by applying directly to the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO), he was stonewalled.

On January 5, 2015, HaMoked filed an appeal on his behalf, demanding that the military promptly disclose the allegations against the man and summon him to a hearing committee to allow him to controvert them. Only after several insistent letters to this effect, did the military summon the man to a hearing, and disclose a “security paraphrase” which stated briefly that the man was refused “in view of your family ties with Hamas”.

In the hearing of the appeal, held on February 9, 2015, the military delivered an updated “security paraphrase”: “You are a Hamas activist with links to armaments. Your brother […] is a senior Hamas activist in his village, with current activity in Hamas in recent years. Approving the application constitutes harm to the security of the Area”. Additionally, the military questioned the location of the man’s farmland inside the “seam zone”. On his part, the man denied connection to Hamas or political activity of any sort, and asserted he was not responsible for the acts of others. The man also stressed that his land was still within the “seam zone”, despite the recent changes in the route of the separation barrier in the area. On March 2, 2014, the committee announced it had decided to reject the objection, “given the security information that exists [against the man]”

On April 21, 2015, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to instruct the military to grant the man a permit of entry to his farmland for two years, as stipulated in the Standing Orders. HaMoked argued that in refusing to issue the requested permit, the military was excessively and unreasonably infringing on the man’s rights to property, freedom of occupation and freedom of movement. HaMoked also argued that the military committee hearing was unlawful, because it had not addressed the military’s security claims, and was held in the absence of relevant officials necessary for consideration of the appeal, such as the military advisor on land issues, and an ISA representative.

Following the petition, on July 13, 2015, the state announced that “For the time being, there is no security objection to give the petitioner a permit of entry to the seam zone”. The farmer finally received the entry permit three days later.

As in many previous cases, in this case also, the security claim evaporated shortly after a petition was filed to the HCJ. This raises difficult questions about the policy of security officials who regularly prevent hundreds of Palestinians from accessing their farmlands trapped inside the “seam zone”, and casts doubts over the validity of the security claims initially raised in this case. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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