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HaMoked to the Military: new concrete roadblock at Qaffin gate in the Separation Wall prevents local Palestinians from accessing farmland trapped inside the Seam Zone and transporting produce

Palestinian farmers whose agricultural lands in the West Bank are trapped between the Separation Wall and the Green Line – areas Israel calls the Seam Zone – can only access their plots by obtaining a military permit in advance. This as part of Israel’s draconian permit regime implemented by the military in the Seam Zone. Several dozen gates have been installed along the Separation Wall to connect between the separated parts of the West Bank, but each permit allows passage through just one or two gates, the ones that are closest to the permit holder’s home. The agricultural gates have very limited opening hours and most are not even open every day.

On October 6, 2019, HaMoked sent an urgent letter to the military to demand the removal of a barricade of concrete blocks placed at Qaffin gate – which is usually listed as the only gate, with no alternative, on the permits of Qaffin farmers whose lands are trapped inside the Seam Zone. HaMoked noted that the roadblock was preventing farmers from passing through with tractors and wagons with horses, and was significantly hampering their agricultural work. HaMoked added that the olive harvest had just begun and that it was imperative to enable the transportation of the olive yield out of the Seam Zone. HaMoked warned that unless the roadblock was removed, it would have to petition the High Court of Justice.

In its response of October 7, 2019, the military claimed that the concrete blocks were put in place because of a recent “criminal phenomenon with distinct security aspects” of Seam Zone agricultural gates being breached by vehicles, making it possible “to enter Israel illegally”. The military added that, following HaMoked’s letter, “in order to provide a response to the agricultural need, it has been decided at this time, to allow passage of tractors and wagons with horses via gate 387, which lies 2.5 km. away from Qaffin gate, and this subject to coordination with the DCO [District Coordination Office]”.

On October 10, 2019, HaMoked responded that this alternative was unacceptable and again demanded that the roadblock be removed. Based on HaMoked’s experience, the requirement to coordinate each entry with the DCO is impractical; in the best of circumstances farmers will have to wait hours near the gate in order to get the approval to cross.

No substantive response has yet been received. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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