security fence 298 88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A UN report released Tuesday said West Bank Palestinians who were cut off from their farmland by Israel's security barrier were abandoning their plots.
The study by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and UN Relief and Works Agency covered the Palestinian regions of Kalkilya and Tulkarm, where 180,000 Palestinians live. Because of the rural nature of these areas, many Palestinian residents rely on farming for their livelihoods.
The report did not say how many Palestinians have left their land.
After a wave of suicide bombings in 2001, Israel began constructing the security fence along the West Bank to keep Palestinian terrorists from entering the country.
"Palestinians ... have faced increased difficulty accessing their farmland," according to the report. "The result is widespread loss of agricultural livelihoods." In the past, UNOCHA has greatly exaggerated the number of people directly affected by the barrier, once putting the number at 400,000, a figure later repudiated by the UN itself.
Israeli security forces often open the gates at limited or unpredictable times, according to the report.
Adam Avidan of the Israeli military's civil administration said that in general, Palestinians who need permits receive them, though sometimes security considerations cause delays. He said the gates are opened several times a day for farmers, students and others.