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From the field

Testimony: Israel restricts Manal a-Daqa's access to her land on the other side of the Separation Barrier, Tulkarm area, April 2010

Manal a-Daqa, farmer

Manal a-Daqa, farmer

My husband and I had 28 dunams of olive and almond groves that he inherited from his father. When Israel built the Separation Barrier in 2002-2003, it expropriated seven dunams of our land for the barrier, and the rest of our land remained on the other side. Now, to get to our land, we have to cross agricultural gates in the barrier. For this, we need permits from Israel , which we obtain through the Palestinian liaison office. My husband submitted requests for the two of us, and we got them without any problem. We both worked the land.

In 2005, my husband died, and I became the only one responsible for the land. I submitted requests for permits for me and the laborers who worked the land with me. I needed the laborers because the work is hard and I can't do it alone. At first, I was given permits for me and the laborers for short periods of time. In 2006, I received a permit for me for two years. The laborers continued to get permits for short periods of time.

In December 2008, the permit expired and my problems with the Israeli liaison office began. I submitted a request to renew the permit and attached all the necessary documents, including proof of ownership of the land, the order of inheritance, a copy of the registration record and my husband's death certificate. The Israelis kept delaying their answer and said that they were checking the ownership issue following my husband's death. The Israeli liaison office asked for the death certificate of my father-in-law, who died in 1964, to verify that my husband had inherited the land from his father.

Manal a-Daqa next to the agricultural gate in the Separation Barrier, beyond which lies her land. Photo: '‘Abd al-Karim Sa'adi, B'Tselem, 2 June '10. />

From 19 December 2008, when my permit expired, to October 2009, I did not receive a new permit, despite efforts of the International Red Cross and the Palestinian liaison office in Tulkarm to help me. In October 2009, I received a permit, but only for one month, and I later received a permit for 21 March-20 April 2010. Because it took almost a year to get a permit again, I didn't even try to get permits for the laborers. I didn't know when I would get one for myself, and I didn't want the laborers working when I wasn't there.

Today I submitted a request to renew the permit through the Palestinian liaison office. The clerk at the office told me that the Israelis want to verify that I own the land by checking the records at the Land Registration Office, which is at the Civil Administration offices in Qedumim and is run by Israel .

The delay in obtaining the permits is holding me up from weeding and plowing the land. This worries me, because it increases the risk of fires breaking out.

Next Sunday (2 May), I plan to submit a new request. I hope the Israeli liaison office acknowledges that I own the land.

* On 2 June 2010, Manal a-Daqa received another temporary permit, for only three months, to access her land.

Manal Mustafa Ahmad a-Daqa, 42, is a widow and lives in Zeita, Tulkarm District. She gave her testimony to '‘Abd al-Karim Sa'adi on 28 April 2010.