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From the field

Family becomes unemployed after the army denies them permits to cross the separation barrier to work their land, November 2005

'Itaf Khaled, 57

'Itaf Khaled

I am fifty-seven years old and married. My husband and I have five sons and one daughter. We have twenty-two dunams of farmland, all of which is situated west of the separation fence. The farmland is spread out over a few areas. We have eight dunams of olive orchards in the area of Marj Abu a-Samin, six dunams of citrus groves in the area of a-Mahajir, four dunams of greenhouses in which we grow vegetables in the area of Marj Yubek, and four dunams on which we grow apples, peaches, and lemons in aera Shaqfat Yubek.

Since 1989, I have helped in the farming. The crops we grow are the sole source of our family's livelihood. All of us were involved in the farming. Then the Israeli authorities began to build the separation fence west of our village. After the fence was built, they put in gates so that farmers who had special permits could get to their land. Two such gates were put up on Jayyus's land: one lies at the western edge of the village and the other at its southern end.

Prior to 2005, my husband, our three sons - Muhammad (25), Baker (20, and 'Omar (16) - and I received permits to pass through the gates. In January 2005, my husband submitted requests to the DCO in Qedumim to renew all our permits. The requests for my husband and the boys were rejected for "security" reasons, and I was given a six-month permit. Later, my permit was extended for two more years, until 5 September 2007. They resubmitted their requests several times, the last being this month [November 2005]. All were rejected.

The refusal to grant the permits causes great problems for me. I am unable to work the land by myself. I can't do the plowing or the spraying or the other work needed to take care of the trees. Besides, I am diabetic and suffer from high blood pressure and muscular problems, so I can't do the work by myself. My husband had to get Muhammad Sami a-Dibs, a farmer with a permit to cross the fence, to work our land. As payment, he gets one-third of the crop. The problem is that you can't compare the quality of care given to the land - it is much greater when the person working the land is the owner. In 2004, my husband and the boys did the planting and handled all the farming chores, and we made NIS 40,000 from the tomatoes and cucumbers in our greenhouses. In 2005, we did not get enough revenue to cover the expenses for water, seedlings, spray, and other things needed to grow the crops.

The neglect of our land because my husband and the boys are not given permits is slowly destroying our source of livelihood. Now, during the olive-picking season, they sit at home without work. I can't pick the olives alone. The entire quantity that I picked is not enough for more than three tins of olive oil. Last year, when my husband and the children picked the olives, we managed to pick enough olives to produce sixty-five tins of olive oil.

'Itaf Ahmad Sa'id Khaled, 57, married with six children, is a homemaker and a resident of Jayyus. Her testimony was given to 'Abd al-Karim Sa'adi in Jayyus on 23 November 2005