Center for the Defence of the Individual - HaMoked to the HCJ: The ‘Anin gate in the Separation Wall must be opened daily; the current limited schedule denies farmers access to their trapped lands
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HaMoked to the HCJ: The ‘Anin gate in the Separation Wall must be opened daily; the current limited schedule denies farmers access to their trapped lands

A decade ago the High Court of Justice (HCJ) approved the military permit regime enforced in the West Bank areas that are trapped between the Separation Wall and the Green Line – areas Israel calls the Seam Zone. This regime applies only to the Palestinian population of the oPt, bars most of them from entering the Seam Zone, and compels those who seek to go there to obtain a permit in advance, subject to the military’s draconian bureaucracy. In the judgment of 2011, the court recorded the state’s undertaking “to enable, to the maximum extent possible, easy entry of the inhabitants to the seam zone areas”, particularly farmers whose lands are trapped there, in the absence of any individual security preclusion. However, time and again it turns out that the arrangements and their implementation on the ground prevent farmers from having reasonable access to their plots in the Seam Zone, for reasons completely unrelated to security considerations. Thus in the case of the residents of the village of ‘Anin in the Jenin district.

On March 16, 2023, HaMoked petitioned the HCJ on behalf of five ‘Anin residents, including the Head of the village Council and also on behalf of the Head of Council of nearby Umm ar-Rehan (located inside the Seam Zone), to demand that ‘Anin gate be opened all week long and for longer periods of time each day. The petition focuses on ‘Anin landowners’ demand that they be allowed to frequently and reasonably reach their lands trapped inside the Seam Zone. In addition, the Court was asked to order that the gate be included on the Seam Zone permits of Umm ar-Rehan residents to facilitate frequent family visits between the two villages. The petitioners argued that the limited opening times of the gate – twice a week for only 20 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon – disproportionately harm the basic rights of protected persons to property, freedom of employment and freedom of movement.

The petition elaborates on the difficulties thus imposed on ‘Anin residents in reaching their plots: the gate is just a five minutes’ drive from the village, but its brief opening times compel the local farmers to routinely enter the Seam Zone and leave it via the distant Barta’a checkpoint. The checkpoint is open every day, all day but reaching it takes about 90 minutes in each direction, along the Separation Barrier surrounding the Hinanit, Tal Menashe and Shaked settlements. At the checkpoint, they must then wait in line for a security check for close to half-an-hour as the checkpoint serves as an entry point to Israel. The farmers must then continue on makeshift dirt roads inside the Seam Zone, using an off-road vehicle or tractor. This route is also prohibitively expensive, costing some ILS 80 for both ways by car, and ILS 60 by bus. In addition to the waste of time and money, passing through the Barta’a checkpoint with agricultural heavy machinery requires prior coordination, which is not required when going via the ‘Anin gate.