HaMoked to the military: permit holders must be allowed to enter and exit the Seam Zone unless under legal restrictions
On March 31, 2020, the military sent its response to HaMoked`s letters sent earlier that month regarding the ban on entry of farmers to the Seam Zone on the pretext of the coronavirus crisis. In its response, the military claimed that the restrictions were imposed in order to curb the spread of the virus, and were similar to those imposed in other countries. The military said that the military commander had decided to limit farmers’ entry to the Seam Zone to the minimum – allowing entry only for tending crops requiring daily and intensive care. The military also cited the Order regarding Restriction of Activity (New Coronavirus 2019) (Judea and Samaria) (No. 1832) (Temporary Order) 2020.
However, according to reports received by HaMoked, entry restrictions have been tightened further and at present all entry permits into the Seam Zone have been suspended indefinitely; this, except for special one-month permits issued to a minority of the farmers in some West Bank districts. Moreover, a number of crossings in the separation barrier have been completely closed, except for passage of Seam Zone “permanent residents”. The permit freeze applies also to people holding permits of commercial work in the Seam Zone – many from Jenin District – and so many businesses there have been closed for over six weeks now. Additionally, some 100 residents of Nazlat ‘Isa in Tulkarm District are trapped inside a section of the village that lies beyond the separation barrier and cannot leave for whatever purpose (all except for some 10 residents who have been issued with special military permits allowing them to leave and reenter the trapped section).
In a letter sent on May 4, 2020, HaMoked elaborated on this state of affairs, and clarified that to the best of its knowledge, these far reaching decisions had no legal foundation and were contrary to the military orders regarding the Seam Zone. Moreover, the imposed restrictions are not in line with the regulations set in the said temporary order, which allows employees to reach their places of work – including farmers and others who work in the Seam Zone – and also allows people to go outside of their homes for a variety of purposes.
HaMoked reiterated its demand that all the decisions listed in its letter be cancelled, insofar as they were made, so that permit holders would be allowed into and out of the Seam Zone pursuant to the legally established restrictions. HaMoked again asked that the military clarify and make public its policy regarding entry of permit holders into the Seam Zone at this time.