'Atil, Deir al-Ghusun

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Tsiona Snir, Miki Fisher (reporting) Translator:  Charles K.

10:45  Deir el Ghusun municipality:  We met the mayor at the entrance to the municipal building, who was hurrying to a pro-Abu Mazen demonstration in Tulkarm.  He managed to tell us that a week ago there had been problems at the Athil agricultural checkpoint (609).  Details follow.


10:50  B’, the municipal official responsible for permits, told us farmers still wait a long time for responses to their applications  One improvement – a few farmers with hothouses received the number of permits they’d requested.

A farmer with a heart condition who owns two dunums has a permit to access his land but is unable himself to cultivate it.  He came to inquire about the permits he’d requested a month ago for his two sons.  We referred him to the Moked for the Defense of the Individual and recommended he bring documents confirming his illness and his inability to work the land without help.


11:30  Athil agricultural checkpoint (609)

The checkpoint is closed, a military police jeep already waiting.  Ten minutes later a military spokesman arrived in a jeep flying a huge Israeli flag.  He’d come to make statements about what’s happening at the checkpoints.  Perhaps it’s a response to a complaint by the Palestinian liaison office about harassment.


11:40  The checkpoint opens.  A photographer from the spokesman’s office photographed the MPs working at the agricultural checkpoint:  opening the gate, inspecting IDs, etc.  Three tractors and 20 farmers on foot crossed back to the village.


An acquaintance told us he’d recently happened to run into Samir Mu’adi, the staff officer for agriculture, and told him farmers aren’t receiving enough workers for the hothouses.  He said Samir had been astonished and contacted the Tulkarm DCL, which (finally, after months of repeated requests) approved the full quota of required workers.  He also said that on Sunday the checkpoint opened only at 08:00.  They telephoned the Palestinian liaison office to find out the reason for the delay and learned that the Israeli DCL decided to punish all the farmers and close the checkpoint.  Why?  Because someone jumped over the fence or broke through it, apparently on his way to work in Israel.  The farmers were angry and all drove their tractors as a protest to block the entrance to Tulkarm.


As a result, a meeting was arranged between Danny and Ilan, the heads of the Israeli DCL, and the heads of the Palestinian liaison office, the mayors of Deir el Ghusun and Athil, and a representative of the farmers.  The representatives of the Israeli DCL said they view very seriously any attempt to damage the fence.  If it happens again the checkpoint will be closed.  The DCL officers made the farmers responsible for the behavior of the villagers, demanded they warn them and keep an eye on them.  The farmers’ representative said that’s not their job, it’s the job of the Israeli army to maintain order.


The Israeli DCL representatives also announced that the inspections at the checkpoint will be more rigorous:  if a farmer or worker who left in the morning doesn’t return the same day, their crossing permit will be rescinded.  We were also told that fingerprinting was discussed, as well as magnetic gatesinfo-icon surrounding the plots, but they didn’t get all the details of the new plans.  They said they were told that as a first step Eyal Salman will come on 23-24.4.18 to determine how many workers each farmer requires, based on how much land he has and the type of crop.


12:05  Deir el Ghusun agricultural checkpoint (623)

The checkpoint is already open.  Three tractors crossed to the seam zone and three others and 10-15 workers returned home from the seam zone to Palestine.


12:15  The soldiers locked the checkpoint gates and apparently continued to the Zeita checkpoint.