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From the field

Restrictions on residents of a-Dab'a due to the Separation Barrier, Qalqiliya District, July 2005

'Abd a-Latif 'Odeh, farmer

'Abd a-Latif 'OdehMy family has lived in the village of a-Dab'a for generations. The village is east of Ras 'Atiya, south of Hirbet a-Slaman, north of 'Isla and west of 'Kafr Thulth. It is approximately five kilometers from Qalqiliya and one and a half kilometers from Habla. Most of the residents of a-Dab'a are farmers. The farming industry has been severely affected by the building of the Separation Barrier. A large portion of our land was left on the north-eastern side of the fence and it is extremely difficult for us to reach it. My family owns over ninety dunams of agriculture land on which we grow olive trees.

Our house is about sixty meters away from the fence. It is on the eastern side of the barrier and our land is on the western side. I can see our land from my house, but I can only get to it by crossing the Ras 'Atiya gate. You need a special permit to use that gate. From there, I continue on to the Habla junction, and then to the Jal'ud intersection. Then I go to Khirbet a-Salman, and then another eight kilometers by car and two kilometers by foot, because there is no paved road or dirt path to get to the land. It takes me about two hours to get to my land. If there are delays at the gate, it can take three or four hours. As a result, whenever I want to work my land, I end up spend most of my time just getting to and from it. Many farmers, including my brother, Rafik Ibrahim el-A'araj, have abandoned their fields because of the difficulties in reaching them

The Barrier has also caused problems regarding education. High school students from our village must pass through the gate to reach their schools in Habla or Qalqiliya, and frequently they have problems. A few weeks ago, Amir 'Amar Muhammad 'Abdallah, age 18, tried to cross the gate to go take his matriculation exams. The soldiers detained him at the gate from morning until 1 PM claiming that he approached the soldier without being asked to do so.

We have only one school in the village, and it has a large teaching staff. Most of the teachers live on the other side of the barrier and need permits to get to the school. The dependence on permits disrupts the school's functioning. When the permits expire, it often takes a long time to get them renewed. In the meantime, classes are cancelled and the children are unable to continue their lessons.

Residents of the village have to go to Habla or Qalqiliya to get medical treatment, which entails at long trip. In cases of a medical emergency, it is dangerous.

At the gate that leads to Ras 'Atiya we are not permitted to transfer merchandise and that makes life very difficult for families that own livestock and need to transfer fodder for them. The fact that merchandise can only be transferred at Checkpoint #109 (DCO Qalqiliya) [and not at the gate] makes it very costly as well. Transferring merchandise through the gate would cost about thirty shekels, but to go through the checkpoint costs approximately 200 NIS and takes much longer. Also, frequently people are denied passage at the checkpoint because their permit is only valid for the gate.

Because of the Separation Barrier, most of the grazing land has been destroyed or is inaccessible on the other side of the fence. As a result, the price of fodder has increased. My brother, Abdallah el-A'arag, age 65, owned a flock of 100 sheep. After the Barrier was built he had to sell the whole flock since he had no grazing land left and fodder was too expensive for him.

We also have problems hosting relatives and friends. Whenever people want to visit, we have to get a permit for them. Often, the requests are rejected. Even if they are granted, it usually takes more than a week to receive them. I married off my son Ibrahim two months ago. Only a quarter of the invited guests could attend.

'Abd a-Latif Ibrahim 'Odeh , age 63, married and father of 15, is a farmer and a resident of a-Deb'i village near Qalqiliya. His testimony was taken by Karim Jubran on 21 July 2005 at the witness's home