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21.7.2020

Yet again: HaMoked’s intervention is required for the military to remove a concrete barricade that prevented Qaffin farmers from bringing farm animals and equipment to their lands trapped beyond the Separation Barrier

On June 26, 2020, 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 barricade was preventing farmers from passing through with tractors and wagons with horses, and was significantly hampering their agricultural work. The soldiers told the farmers they could reach their trapped land via the distant Akkabah gate. HaMoked clarified that this was not a viable alternative as it entailed a drive of up to an hour in each direction, instead of just a few minutes. Moreover, this gate has no road connecting it to the Qaffin farmlands, forcing farmers to reach their lands via privately owned farmlands, crushing crops on the way. HaMoked added that barbed wire had been placed at the pedestrian crossing of the Qaffin gate, hampering entry and causing injuries.

Initially, on July 8, 2020, the military said “there is no barricade that prevents crossing the gate…”. After HaMoked’s insistence, the military admitted that “a mistake has occurred and crossing is indeed impossible in one of the gates”. The barricade was removed, and on July 16, 2020, the military notified that “currently crossing is possible in full”. The military provided the following explanation – if one can call it that – to the concrete barricade: “The purpose of the concrete blocks at that crossing is absolutely not to prevent passage but consist [sic] part of the gate system. The gate in question was not opened due to technical failures which have been solved”.

The same occurred less than a year before: In early October 2019, at the beginning of the important olive harvest season, the military blocked the Qaffin gate in a similar manner, and thus for over a month, prevented farmers from crossing the gate into their lands with tractors, horses and carts. The concrete barricade was removed on November 12, 2019, a day after HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on this matter.

It should also be noted that in June 2020, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ on behalf of local farmers, to compel the military to dismantle a 6-km.-segment of the Separation Barrier, which includes the Qaffin gate. This given the devastating harm to the farmers’ rights to make a living from their lands, to use their private property, and freely move between their homes and their lands inside the West Bank.
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