Jayyus, Falamiya, Jayyus north, two farmers who were arrested and released the next day

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Michal Ben Gera, Miki Fischer (reporting), Ra’ad (driving and translating) Translator: Charles K.

11:15  We consulted with A. ’A, a veteran farmer from Jayyus, about the best way to approach the Palestinian Authority and its institutions regarding the actions of Jatt village, in Israel, in expanding its garbage dump onto some 15 dunums of private land belonging to farmers from Zeita, on the West Bank.  This land is registered as mi’ilya, and has been trapped in the seam zone since the separation fence was erected.  He said that unlike land registered in the tabu, mi’ilya is land registered and recognized as agricultural by the Jordanian Ministry of Finance, today the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, but which Israel doesn’t recognize as private land registered in the tabu because it wasn’t thus registered as part of the British land settlement during the Mandate in the 1940’s.  He gave us the phone numbers of the Palestinian Authority official dealing with claims regarding incursions onto Palestinian lands, and said that he’d already given the numbers, over the phone, to the head of the Zeita municipality.  He added that he’s familiar with these problems – in 1986 the Civil Administrationinfo-icon made difficulties for him and tried to steal his land, but the courts, including the Supreme Court, confirmed the legitimacy of his documents after a ten-year battle, and he won his case.  But, since 2006, they’ve again been trying to steal some of his land.  This time the Civil Administration claims his lands actually have a different registration number, and they’re trying to expropriate them, apparently to enlarge the neighboring settlement of Tzofin.  He’s represented by an Israeli attorney who’s working for the Palestinian Authority.  Regarding the issue of permits, he confirmed what we’d already heard, that applicants are facing more and more difficulties.  In general, the older land owner usually is granted a permit but his children aren’t, because they’re not registered as owners of the land. 

12:00  Jayyus municipality.

We met with M., the accountant.  As soon as we entered he said, “You’re ten minutes late!!” ??, and immediately took us up to the roof where we could see the school building to the left, and at a distance of some 300 meters in the other direction were olive trees, a few houses and beyond them the route of the separation fence.

And then he told us that every day, and today also, ten minutes before we arrived, the 10-13 year old elementary school children walk home along the road while soldiers lie in wait for them among the trees and fire tear gas grenades at them.  Sometimes the children respond by throwing stones, and the soldiers fire more grenades.

That’s been going on for many days – what business have the soldiers in our village, inciting the children? he asked.

Then he told us that his son, who’s studying medicine at Al Najah University, had been imprisoned for two years, but even though he’d served his time he’s still being harassed.  Soldiers regularly enter their home, make the family members get out of bed, search them.  The son can’t get a permit to travel abroad for an internship after he completes his studies.

12:50  Gate 914, Falamya

The gate opened as we arrived.  One man told us that since the olive harvest the gate has opened and closed on time.  But permits continue to be a problem – “They’re granted when they feel like doing so, sometimes yes, sometimes no, without giving any reason.”  Renewing a permit takes a very long time, often three months.  Young persons don’t receive permits, the farmers said.  One told us his daughters received permits, but not his sons, again with no reason given.

Four tractors and about 15 people enter.  Three people and two tractors leave.

13:00  A young man arrived carrying a bag with food, passed through the first gate, and then we saw from afar the MPs signaling him to wait on the side.  He sits.  They inspect him from head to toe.  He takes off his shirt, puts it on again.  The female soldier in charge is on the phone the whole time.  The other soldier tells us that according to the computer he hasn’t entered in the past month and a half, and they were told to detain him until someone from the Shabak comes.  The young man later told us that he said to the soldiers that he and a friend were picking za’atar, he went to bring lunch, and then they asked him to call his friend and tell him to come.  From afar we see the discussion continuing between them and the soldiers, until 14:20.  The two young farmers are turned back and the first has his permit taken away.

They say they both entered this morning but the soldiers claimed there’s no record of that.  They said they picked za’atar but now they’re not being allowed to get it; it will all dry out in the field.

Agricultural gate 935 – Jayyus North

Since both the soldiers and we were delayed for more than an hour, we reached the gate at 14:40.  The checkpoint was supposed to open at 13:40.  No one is there.  The farmers who were waiting must have returned to the fields when they realized the gate wouldn’t open in the afternoon, but only towards evening.

18:30  Supplemental information, by phone:  I received urgent telephone calls from the young men’s families.  They hadn’t returned home; the families were told they’d been arrested.  I telephoned the DCL situation room and was told they’d been notified they’d been arrested and were released at 16:30.  When they hadn’t returned home and couldn’t be found anywhere I called again at 23:00, and the next morning, Thursday, and the Qalqilya DCL situation room insisted they’d been released.  Meanwhile the families had called the Palestinian liaison office the same morning. 

On Thursday at 11:30 the families called.  The young men had come home after having been released only Thursday morning.  It turns out the army doesn’t report truthfully to the Civil Administration – or perhaps the DCL was lying?

What happened?  Why were they arrested?  The young men felt they’d been treated unfairly when they were sent home at 14:20 and had to leave all the za’atar behind, and tried to cross over the fence.  Apparently, obviously, a military jeep showed up and arrested them.  They were taken for interrogation and released only the following day.  And the second Palestinian’s permit was also confiscated.

Stupidity?  Is it sometimes better to be smart than to be right, or should one always refuse to accept injustice?

Who are we to judge – the occupation is the root of all evil!!!!