Yesh Din: Settlers build fences to keep Palestinian landowners off their own land
Yesh Din Settlers build
By DAN IZENBERG
Settlers have prevented Palestinians from cultivating almost 400 dunams of their farmland by fencing off the area and the authorities have done nothing to stop them, two Palestinian farmers charged Wednesday in a High Court petition filed by the Yesh Din human rights organization.
The petition specifically addresses the plight of Palestinian farmers from the village of Jaba, near Ramallah. According to the petitioners, settlers, most likely from the neighboring settlement of Adam, built the fences about five years ago, preventing the Jaba farmers from accessing their land, which constitutes one-third of all the farmland belonging to the village and produced revenue for about 80 percent of the families.
The denial of access by settlers to Palestinian land is a much broader phenomenon than just Jaba, and is perpetrated by many settlers living in settlements and illegal outposts all over the West Bank, the petitioners charged.
"In recent years, in a development that became far more common after the second intifada, we have witnessed the de-facto annexation of large plots of land, some owned by Palestinians and some defined as "state-owned lands" to West Bank settlements by way of denying Palestinian access to them," wrote Yesh Din lawyers Michael Sfard, Shlomy Zecharya and Avisar Lev.
Regarding Jaba, the problem of accessing this farmland began in the year 2000. Since 2003, when the fence was built, the farmers have been denied all access. The petitioners charged that police and soldiers often help the settlers drive away Palestinians who try to reach their plots.
Yesh Din researcher Dror Etkes first complained to Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Civil Administration in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, on June 19, 2008 about the general situation and the specific situation in Jaba. Despite many reminders since then, the civil administration did not reply to any of the complaints.
"The fences around the settlements, though illegal, stand there undisturbed," wrote the petitioners. "The authorities have thus failed to fulfill their duty to the protected population in an occupied territory. By avoiding the necessary action to enforce the lawâ€¦the authorities broke the law. This calls for a response from the court."
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