Palestinian wheat farmer 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Farmers from Deir Nizam, 23 km. northwest of Ramallah, petitioned the High Court
of Justice on Thursday to order the civil administration to allow them access to
the Ein al-Kis spring to irrigate their fields.
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The farmers are also
demanding access to their cultivated fields adjacent to the spring.
villagers have used the spring for decades, but since January 2010 the Civil
Administration of Judea and Samaria has prevented access to the area, saying it
was an archeological site, attorney Shlomy Zachary said.
He is one of
three lawyers from Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights who filed the petition
on behalf of the Palestinians against the civil administration.
to Zachary and fellow lawyers Michael Sfard and Avisar Lev, the area was never
formally declared an archeological site.
As such, the attorneys claim the
civil administration’s actions are unauthorized, unreasonable, biased and based
on ulterior motives that aim to expel the Palestinian petitioners from their
Zachary added that the civil administration has not stopped
settlers from nearby Halamish, also known as Neveh Tzuf, from accessing the
spring. He further charged that the settlers had built illegally in the area of
“The authorities are using archeological claims as an excuse
to prevent the petitioners from accessing their lands – based on considerations
that have nothing to do with archeology,” Zachary said.
“The decision to
withhold access to the spring and the surrounding fields was taken irrespective
of any archeological relics in the area, if indeed there are any, only to evade
a previous High Court of Justice ruling against the strategy of blocking access
to Palestinians in order to maintain ‘public order.’ We ask the court to annul
this decision,” he said.
The civil administration could not be reached
for a comment.
According to Yesh Din, the civil administration’s actions
have harmed the livelihood of Palestinian farmers and inflamed tensions in the
This year violence has broken out between the IDF and Palestinians
almost every Friday at weekly protests in nearby Nabi Salih, which also claims
Itzhik Shadmi, who heads the Binyamin Citizens Committee and
lives in Halamish, said he believed Palestinians had access to the spring, as
well as to three wells built by teens from his community.
He said that
five years ago, the teens built three wells from a small spring that trickled in
the winter and muddied the ground in the summer.
They then encircled them
with stones and boulders. After some time, a family from Halamish named the area
Meir’s spring, in memory of their father who died of cancer.
tables and benches and built an awning, so that people could sit and enjoy the
Last year, Palestinians burned the memorial area a number of times,
but that it was rebuilt after each incident, Shadmi said.
Jews tend to use the area on Friday and Saturday while Palestinians make use of
it during the week, Shadmi said.