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Sonia Nettnin: Jayyous Gate 25 Reopened

Jayyous Gate 25 Reopened, Permits Needed for Farming Equipment


By Sonia Nettnin

Earlier this week, Israeli Forces reopened West Jayyous Gate 25, but Palestinian villagers need Israeli permits for gate access for their farming equipment and donkey carts.

The reopening of gate 25 comes after its sudden closure by Israeli Forces the previous week. The 8000 dunums of land is the primary source of sustenance and income for 300 Palestinian families. The people of Jayyous have serious concerns as to how their families will survive without the trees and a harvest of crops.

During the days of the closure, “The farmers and their families wait under the hot sun looking for this gate to open,” one man explained. “But the hope disappears.”

When the villagers asked Israeli soldiers why they would not open the gate, the soldiers told them to go back and talk to the bosses.

Meanwhile, Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, an action advocacy officer for The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions contacted Dan Goldenblatt, a parliamentary aide to Roman Bronfman, MK. He made an agreement with a representative from Israel’s Civil Administration to reopen the gate. The following night, May 15, 2005, Godfrey-Goldstein contacted Abu Azzam, also known as Sharif Omar, who was at the gate with other villagers. According to another resident, the Israeli Army stationed ten jeeps in front of gate 25, still closed to the villagers. The Civil Administration broke their agreement with Goldenblatt, who was unaware of it. The Israeli Army told the farmers they have access to gate 24, the South Falamya Gate. According to sources, access through gate 24 adds two hours of travel time for the farmers.

During the closure, 50 Palestinian families remained with their farmland so they could irrigate their citrus and olive orchards, as well as their vegetable crops. After five days, they ran out of food. Villagers were in negotiation with the Israeli Army to pass food to the farmers through the gate.

According to Godfrey-Goldstein, “…an agreement was made with the villagers at the gate that night that they could use the south gate of Jayyous, which has currently been locked and never opened for use.” Last week, Israeli Forces reopened gate 25, but “…they are only allowed through it on foot,” Godfrey-Goldstein explained. Now, if farmers want to bring their farming equipment and donkey carts through gate 25, they need Israeli permits. The permit process is tedious and not always granted to applicants.

Godfrey-Goldstein published an article with the Alternative Information Centre’s publication, “News from Within,” about the land confiscation in Jayyous over the last, three years. Villagers suspect the deliberate closure of gate 25 is for a forthcoming Israeli settlement in front of the main gate.

Since the construction of the separation barrier in Jayyous, Israeli bulldozers razed several hundred citrus and olive trees. Moreover, the farmers lost access to six groundwater wells they used for farmland irrigation. The wells are on the Israeli side. As a result of the lack of irrigation approximately 15,000 citrus and live trees died. The farmers received no compensation for their agricultural loss.

Now, farmers buy water from a neighboring village and transport it in water trucks. The process of filling the trucks and transporting the water to the points of irrigation is time consuming and costly. As the olive groves and tree orchards deteriorate, farmers fear the Israeli Government will chime the Ottoman Law: land not cultivated for three years can be claimed by the state.

The article contains a letter from Jayyous’ mayor to Israeli legal authorities also. He wrote: “We were astonished to find that the parcel numbers corresponding to our land on the Israeli map… (do not match) the numbers on the (original) Jordanian maps or the numbers on the maps issued from 1967 until now.”

Although farmers filed police reports about the alleged renumbering of land lots and land theft, the Israeli Police cancelled three visits to the land sites.

If the farmers do not keep their remaining farmland thriving, they may lose their land.

*************

Sonia Nettnin is a freelance writer. Her articles and reviews demonstrate civic journalism, with a focus on international social, economic, humanitarian, gender, and political issues. Media coverage of conflicts from these perspectives develops awareness in public opinion.

Nettnin received her bachelor's degree in English literature and writing. She did master's work in journalism. Moreover, Nettnin approaches her writing from a working woman's perspective, since working began for her at an early age.

She is a poet, a violinist and she studied professional dance. As a writer, the arts are an integral part of her sensibility. Her work has been published in the Palestine Chronicle, Scoop Media and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lives in Chicago.

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