Atil Agricultural Checkpoint 609

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Karin A., Photos and Driving, Roni S., Reporting

06:45 – We picked up our friend A. from Zemer and drove to the greenhouses in the seamline zone located near Atil agricultural checkpoint.  The checkpoint was closed at 07:00, and we met R. and other farmers from the village of Atil who own the greenhouses. 

There are 500 dunams (125 acres) of greenhouses in this fertile valley where farmers grow seasonal vegetables that are all marketed to Israel: cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, fava beans, and others.   Vegetables need to be picked precisely when they ripen so they will not rot and have to be thrown away. These crops also require daily care. 

R. has 18 dunams (4.5 acres) of greenhouses.  He and his wife and 8 of his 15 children care for the greenhouses and he now has a serious problem.  Two weeks ago his sons' permits expired.  The Palestinian Liaison and Coordination Administration were not able to help them, and the Israeli Liaison and Coordination Administration did not renew their permits.  In two weeks his own permit will expire and only his wife will be able to go tend the vegetables.   We met other farmers who have land and they also have similar problems. Some of the farmers are renting the land from the legal owners who are now very elderly.  They have signed leases, which we saw.  Until now the Liaison and Coordination Administration has not given them any problem and they received permits to cross from the West Bank to the seamline zone, and they invested a great deal of money in the greenhouses, plants, and agricultural materials.  Now after all their investment and hard work there is no one to pick the crops and the vegetables are ripening and spoiling before their eyes.

Karin suggested that volunteers from a Jewish activist organization volunteer to help and harvest the vegetables as well as Arabs from the Wadi Eron area.   A. from Zemer has promised to do all he can to find volunteers and to help coordinate the effort.  We had coffee and then left with a heavy heart.

Karin's film: here