Security Prisoner
Security Detainee
Administrative Detainee
Total
26.7.2020

HaMoked to the military: Palestinians must be allowed free access to their lands beyond the Separation Barrier during the upcoming olive harvest season

For over 16 years now, the Israeli military has been enforcing, on alleged security grounds, a draconian permit regime in parts of the West Bank it dubs the “Seam Zone”. These are the lands that are trapped between the Green Line and the Separation Barrier, built inside the West Bank, contrary to international law. Palestinians who live in the Seam Zone or wish to enter it in order to tend to their lands, visit relatives or conduct trade, are forced to obtain a permit subject to the regulations of a suffocating, highly bureaucratic military apparatus, which dictates a myriad of conditions for the receipt of permits to enter and stay in the Seam Zone.

In recent years the military has toughened its policy and drastically restricted access of farmers to their lands beyond the Separation Wall – for reasons unrelated to security – and so only a minority of the applicants receive permits to work their lands. Under the latest version of the military regulation for the Seam Zone, issued 2019, farmers can now reach their lands only 40 days per year. If landowners wish to employ additional workforce to help cultivate their lands, they must submit separate requests for "agricultural employment permits". The military sets quotas for this type of permit based on the size of the plot and the crops grown. But during the olive harvest, which takes place between October and December, military regulations allow for additional dedicated harvest permits to be issued beyond the normal quota, due to the increased need for helping hands, provided that during the second half of August the farmers submit a “list of family members for the olive harvest season”.

On July 23, 2020, as in previous years, HaMoked sent the military a letter to demand advance preparations be made to ensure appropriate access to the farmlands during the upcoming harvest season, in order to safeguard the harvesters’ rights to freedom of movement and a livelihood, while respecting the local tradition of harvesting olives jointly by members of the extended family. HaMoked also clarified that farmers would need to access their lands beforehand to prepare for the harvest by clearing the plot of rocks and thorns. HaMoked stressed that the fight against the spread of coronavirus does not justify additional restrictions on the farmers’ access to their olive groves and farmlands in general, as work in the open air is allowed by law.

HaMoked, therefore, demanded that the military ensure the automatic extension of "farmer permits" and "agricultural employment permits" due to expire close to or during the harvest. HaMoked further demanded that new permits issued for the harvest be granted for long enough periods to prevent the need to extend them during the season. In addition, HaMoked demanded that at least for the duration of the harvest, the olive growers would not be limited to 40 annual entries, and be allowed free access to their lands (subject to the opening times of the separation wall gates).
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

red-id | רד אינטראקטיב