The HCJ rejected HaMoked’s petition to dismantle the Qaffin segment of the Separation Barrier in the West Bank המוקד להגנת הפרט
02.05.2022
The HCJ rejected HaMoked’s petition to dismantle the Qaffin segment of the Separation Barrier in the West Bank
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On June 3, 2020, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to compel the military to dismantle a 6-kilometer-segment of the Separation Barrier close to the villages of Qaffin, Nazlat’ Isa and Akkaba in the northwest of the West Bank. 3,200 dunams of farmlands belonging to these communities are trapped between the Separation Barrier and the Green Line in the area Israel calls the “seam zone”, where it implements a draconian permit regime. The petition described how, contrary to the State’s 2009 undertaking before the HCJ, the Barrier itself, coupled with the military’s implementation of the permit regime, severely harms the lives and livelihoods of residents of the adjacent villages. As a result, orchards have dried up, previously cultivated lands lie barren, yield from remaining trees has dropped sharply, and those farmers who have not given up on reaching their lands, have lost roughly 90% of their farm income.

On May 1, 2022, the HCJ unanimously dismissed HaMoked’s petition. In the judgment, written by Justice Amit, the Court ruled that there was no reason to intervene in the Military Commander’s decision in this matter. Justice Amit noted that “in light of our practiced precedent regarding the special weight to be accorded to the security opinion of the entity responsible for security, I have not been persuaded that the alternative route proposed by the petitioners [bases on the expert security opinion they submitted] is preferable from a security perspective to the current route...”. President Hayut added in her opinion that “the security need for the Fence that was erected – remains as valid as ever".  

In the judgment, Justice Amit made a clear distinction between petitions filed against the route of the Barrier while still under construction, some of which had been accepted, and the current petition challenging a segment of the Barrier that was constructed long ago. “We are not standing at the point of time where, as a rule, petitions will be filed against the route of the Barrier”. Today, according to Justice Amit, the way to address “severe and disproportionate harm” caused by aspects of the Seam Zone regulations or the way in which they are implementedis is through individual and concrete petitions. In this context, Justice Amit added that that various deteriorations in access to lands beyond the Barrier, which were detailed in the petition, had been cancelled or revised following specific petitions. Justice Amit cited specifically the “punch card” restriction and the “tiny plot” restriction. It should be noted that only at the close of the judgment, the HCJ saw fit to note that “undeniably, the petitioners’ affidavits portray a harsh picture regarding the permit regime’s impact on their access to their lands and their ability to cultivate them…”.

HaMoked reiterates its position that the lands behind the Barrier are an integral part of the West Bank and Palestinians have individual and collective rights to freely access these areas. We will continue to advocate that Israel dismantle all segments of the Barrier inside the West Bank and cancel the Seam Zone permit regime. Until it does so, we will support Palestinians confronting these arbitrary and draconian restrictions.

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