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6.5.2019

Following HaMoked’s intervention: the Israeli military again allows Palestinian farmers to bring electric bicycles into the “Seam Zone” in order to reach their lands

For over 15 years the Israeli military has been imposing a draconian permit regime in those parts of the West Bank that are trapped between the separation wall and the Green Line (the armistice line between Israel and the West Bank), an area it refers to as "the Seam Zone". The permit regime applies to Palestinians only; Israelis and tourists do not require a permit to enter “the Seam Zone” or stay in it. Palestinians who live in the Seam Zone or wish to enter it in order to tend to their lands, visit relatives or conduct business, are forced to obtain a permit, subject to the regulations of a stifling and highly bureaucratic military mechanism, which dictates a myriad of conditions for the receipt of such permits. Recently the military has exacerbated restrictions, drastically reducing the number of permits it grants to farmers whose lands are trapped inside the Seam Zone.

HaMoked has been advocating for years against the permit regime as a whole, and against specific instructions and restrictions imposed by the military, and also on behalf of Palestinians, mostly farmers, who encounter various difficulties in receiving a Seam Zone permit. On November 15, 2018, HaMoked sent the military a complaint concerning a new prohibition, whereby farmers cannot cross the “seam zone” gates with electric bicycles. HaMoked wrote that “many farmers have to reach their plots that lie far from the separation-wall gate they must enter through. Riding electric bicycles makes it a lot easier for them, especially in bad weather”.

On May 5, 2019, after repeated reminders by HaMoked, the military responded that “it has been decided to allow holders of permits to the agricultural “seam zone” to pass through the gates with electric bicycles. The decision was circulated and briefed to all the relevant entities including the soldiers at the different crossings… This decision does not exempt from a security check…”.

In this case the military retracted the new, arbitrary prohibition. HaMoked will continue to seek the cancelation of the myriad existing restrictions limiting the access of Palestinian farmers to their lands in this part of the West Bank.
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