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Dozens of Palestinian Farmers Lose Access to their Lands due to Capricious Behavior of Israeli Military Officer

Press release

Dozens of Palestinian Farmers Lose Access to their Lands due to Capricious Behavior of Israeli Military Officer

Timing of wholesale permit confiscation suggests it’s a punishment for HaMoked’s High Court petition

Some one hundred Palestinian farmers from communities in Qalqiliya District lost access to their farmlands last week, after an Israeli officer confiscated their permits to cross the Separation Wall into the “seam zone”, without an acceptable explanation and with no due process. This wholesale confiscation was carried out one week after farmers from these communities petitioned the High Court of Justice via HaMoked over the military’s routine failure to open the Separation Wall gate closest to their lands.

Palestinians from a-Zawiya, Rafat and Mas’ha who have farmlands beyond the Separation Wall access their lands through the Magen Dan gate. They can only pass through the gate if they succeed in obtaining the necessary military permit to do so, and only during the gate’s brief opening times – three times a day, for just 15 minutes. The military’s habitual failure to open the gate during the official opening hours (6:30am, 12:30pm and 4:00pm), with repeated delays of half an hour and longer prompted HaMoked to file a petition to the HCJ on December 5 on behalf of local farmers.

A few days later, over the course of last week, when farmers arrived at the Magen Dan gate at 6:30am, an officer from the Civil Administration was waiting. This officer confiscated dozens of permits, leaving the farmers without access to their lands. The officer told them to appear at the local Civil Administration office “to clarify” matters. Dozens of farmers arrived at the office and waited for hours. A few were asked by the officer to point out their plot of land on a map and were photographed doing so. They were then dismissed. Others were told that in order to receive their permits they should come again to the DCO with survey maps of their land. (In fact, the farmers, who all have valid permits, have already submitted maps and extensive supporting documentation – this is a condition for receiving these permits.)

Today HaMoked sent an urgent letter to the Head of the Civil Administration. “The timing of this capricious and wholesale permit confiscation suggests that it’s retribution for their petitioning the High Court,” says Jessica Montell, Executive Director of HaMoked. “Regardless of the motive, this behavior blatantly violates the military’s legal obligations and these permits must be returned immediately.” (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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