Monday, April 20, 2009
Access to your own land
Every farmer in this part of the West Bank has t0 show a permit to an Israeli soldier at a gate before they can reach their land. Most of these permits are for three months. Each time a farmer renews his permit, he has to produce the deeds that show his entitlement to it, his own ID and his security clearance. Renewals can take up to four months to arrive.
At the locked gates for the villages and olive groves of Attila and Deir al-Gushun outside the town of Tulkarem, those farmers with permits wait every morning until the Israeli soldiers arrive. Our job, as Ecumenical Accomaniers, is to witness the situation, record the numbers and waiting times and send logs on to other organisations gathering data for human rights monitoring. The thirty or forty farmers that we have met and waited with (together with their donkeys and tractors) are a lot less impatient than drivers on their way to work in the routine traffic jams in Britain.
Maybe it is because they are the ones with permits. For every one putting up with the frustration of having young men with guns guarding the road to their own land, there may be another five at home still waiting for the next permit to arrive.