Kufr Thulth, Siniriya and Abu Salman - We arranged meetings in three villages regarding olive harvest permits.

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Pitzi S., Shoshi A., Mustafa (driving and translating) Translator: Charles K.

We first stopped at A.’s shop in ‘Azzun and then continued south to Thulth-Agricultural gate 1262.

Thulth.  We met with M, who had set up four chairs in the sheepfold…

Thulth has 6000 inhabitants.  It’s in Area B.  There’s a lot of new construction.  People earn their living from agriculture, teaching and from raising poultry and sheep.  The army arrives daily, soldiers move through the alleys but don’t enter homes.  Though sometimes stones are thrown at them, there aren’t confrontations.  Relatives of his moved to Jordan and Saudi Arabia in 1967; they’re not permitted to return to visit.  They applied many times to the Israeli embassy in Amman and were always refused.

They asked for the seasonal gate – 1262 – to open at 05:10 for the olive harvest.  To their surprise, the army opened it on 17.9.  The fruit isn’t ripe yet so Thulth residents aren’t crossing.  A few are going through to prepare for the harvest.

The gate opens at 08:40 and 16:00.

They want the gate to open at 06:00 so they’ll have at least 10 hours of work.  They pay NIS 50/day for transportation to their groves.  That’s too much if they can work only a few hours.

Harvest permits.  They applied via the municipality to the Palestinian DCL.  Each family requested 6-7 permits.  Some received only 2 or 3.  People who aren’t able to work in the harvest received permits – a doctor working in a hospital or a 92-year-old man.

M. and his wife received permits but his children and grandchildren did not.  The family has 350 dunams and they need a great deal of help for the harvest.

(We’ll see whether we’re able to visit their land.)

Siniriya.  A meeting at the municipality.

The village has 3640 inhabitants.  Many work in Israel.  They have permits to work in Israel but not to access their land.  They cross through the Oranit checkpoint (Beit Amin 1447) but they’re forbidden to bring vehicles.  They have to carry the sacks filled with olives on their backs.  The sewage problem we’ve already reported still exists.  The pipes are broken.  Sewage from Sha’arei Tiqva flows toward Siniriya and forms a stinking pool.  (We’ll check with Ilana Blamkar what’s been done).

Harvest permits.  Everyone submitted applications but no one has yet received a permit.

Siniriya, Beit Amin and ‘Azzun ‘Atma – they’re all members of one family and their land extends to Kafr Qassem. 

They want the checkpoint to open in October but for the past five years the army has opened it only in November.  Why?

W. joins the meeting.  He has 20 dunams in Oranit.  Since 1989 he hasn’t been permitted to access his land.  He had olives trees that bulldozers uprooted.  Two years ago the Supreme Court confirmed the land was his, but he can see it only from the road to Qalqilya.  Buildings have been erected on three sides of his land.  He speaks fluent Hebrew because he worked twenty years in Israel.  Today he’s blacklisted.  (We suggested he find an Israeli contractor willing to hire him and then contact Sylvia).

A’, a member of the local council, says he’s able to access his land in the Oranit area only accompanied by a soldier.  The explanation is that the soldier protects him.  The truth is that the soldier ensures he won’t enter Israel.  He comes through either the Beit Amin checkpoint or Jaloud, and waits for the military jeep that takes a long time to arrive.  The soldiers search him, and only then is he admitted, accompanied by a soldier.

The family has 80 dunams and six family members are allowed in for only three days.  That’s why they cultivate only 30 dunams, and the other 50 are barren of crops.

We part as our hosts pick a stalk of yellow dates from a tree at the entrance to the municipal building and present it to us.

Abu Salman – visit to the municipality.

They used to cross through a checkpoint near their lands, and reach them in five minutes.  Now they must cross through Jaloud and walk three kilometers.  Only two residents of Abu Salman have vehicles and others have donkey carts.  The rest walk.  The army almost never enters the village.  Many work in Israel.

Olive harvest permits.  They applied for permits for 10 people from each family, assuming only 1 or 2 would be granted.  Y’s father applied for his grandchildren because his sons all work in white collar jobs in various locations.  He was told grandchildren can’t receive permits.  His uncle has half a dunum of citrus trees.  He must take care of them throughout the year, but received a permit for only two months.  He’s old, unable to take care of the trees on his own, so he must pay workers who have permits to work his grove.

They also want the harvest to begin on October 5.

And they also ask why a 65-year-old man is allowed to enter Israel and travel its length and breadth, but isn’t permitted to access his land.

And two surprises in conclusion:

At the Habla checkpoint we ran into Daniella and Yehudit leading a tour.  It was after 13:30 and there were no lines.  Everyone who arrived went through.

At A.’s plant nursery we ran into the head of the Palestinian DCL in Qalqilya and his deputy and we of course asked to meet with them and obtained their names and phone number.  But they asked us to come after the holidays