New B'Tselem Report: Permit System to Cross Separation Barrier is Racist. "Seam Area" regime prevents Palestinian farmers from reaching their fields and is based on racist criteria.
Since October 2003, Israel has implemented a new permit system in the enclaves it created between the separation barrier and the Green Line. As a result, Palestinians without a permit are denied the right to work their lands to the west of the barrier.
Absurdly, only Palestinians require permits. According to Civil Administration directives, Jews can freely enter the Seam Area, even if they are not residents of Israel. By contrast, Palestinians wanting to obtain a permit face a bureaucratic nightmare. B'Tselem's report reveals that during the first six months of the permit regime, the Civil Administration rejected about 25 percent of the permit requests in the Tulkarm-Qalqiliya area. Although Israel has denied farmers their source of income, it refuses to compensate them for their losses. Even farmers with permits may wait hours to cross because the gates were closed.
The Israeli government has not learned from the substantial damage caused by building the first stage of the barrier inside the West Bank. If Israel continues its current policy and completes other sections of the barrier east of the Green Line, thousands more Palestinians will lose their source of income, further increasing the level of poverty in the West Bank. Construction of the barrier inside the West Bank violates international law.
For these reasons, B'Tselem urges the government of Israel to tear down the sections of the barrier that have been built within the West Bank. Until that time, the government should:
- revoke the declaration of the seam area as a closed military area;
- keep the agricultural gates open from morning to night;
- terminate the racist permit system.