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HaMoked petitions the HCJ against the routine and lengthy delays in opening Magen Dan gate in the separation wall

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 if they succeed in obtaining a permit from the military. This as part of Israel’s draconian permit regime implemented by the military in the Seam Zone – a regime which has recently deteriorated even further to become de facto dispossession.

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, closest to the permit holder’s home. The agricultural gates have very limited opening hours; most are not even open every day.

On December 5, 2019, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on behalf of farmers from the communities of a-Zawiya and Mas’ha, to demand the military desist from its routine and lengthy delays in opening the “Magen Dan” agricultural gate, which is closest to these farmers’ lands, trapped inside the Seam Zone. In the petition, HaMoked emphasized that the military had set the gate’s limited opening times – only 15 minutes three times a day. These brief openings of the gate effectively dictate the farmers’ daily schedule, as they must arrive at the gate on time, so as not to miss the possibility of reaching their lands, or returning home from them. Missing the opening of the gate means losing the entire workday, or being trapped inside the Seam Zone overnight, and thereby also risking the confiscation of their permit – which does not allow overnight stay in the Seam Zone.

For over two years, routinely, the military has not opened Magen Dan gate on time, leaving the farmers to wait for long periods until the soldiers arrive to unlock the gate. These delays damage the farmers’ agricultural work and force them to wait at the gate for the soldiers – from half-an-hour up to five hours – without shelter from the elements and without access to food and water. Time and again, HaMoked contacts the military on behalf of farmers in order to expedite the soldiers’ arrival. Moreover, despite HaMoked’s repeated complaints to the military on this matter, sent between July 2017 and November 2019, this phenomenon – which manifests complete disrespect of the farmers’ rights, dignity and time – persists.

In the petition, HaMoked argued that there was no justification for these routine delays and that they were causing significant damage to the daily routine of the local farmers, who sought to realize their basic right to access their plots of land. HaMoked also noted that this state of affairs ran contrary to Israeli case law and to the state’s undertaking before the HCJ “to enable, to the maximum extent possible, an easy entry of the inhabitants to the seam zone areas”. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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