In villages where lands have been isolated behind the Apartheid Wall, the people have not been able to access their fields for months now. In October the Occupation forces declared all lands behind the Wall as a ‘closed military area,’ whereby Palestinians require permits to access them.
The farmers in the villages surrounding Jenin did receive permits from the Occupation forces for one month during last years olive harvest – from November to December. When the permits expired in December, they were never renewed by the Occupation forces.
Villages like Nazlet Shiekh Zeid, Tura Gharbieh, Tura Sharqiya, and Anin are suffering greatly from the inability to reach their agricultural lands, which are now becoming wastelands; their crops stolen, or destroyed by settlers and wild boars released by the settlers and Occupation forces.
Taiseer Zaid is a farmer who owns eighty dunums of land, parts of which are planted with olive trees, the rest used for cultivating grains and tobacco. Shakid settlement is built near his lands which were isolated behind the Apartheid Wall. For three months Taiseer has been trying to get a permit to reach his land, requests which the Occupation forces have repeatedly refused. Taiseer has had no option but to ask relatives who live in Um Rihan – a village that was isolated behind the Wall – to cultivate his land, which they plowed and seeded, the crops now ready for harvest. Despite this Taiseer is still not able to reach his lands to harvest them. All that he can do is stand on a nearby hill and watch his land go to waste, or be destroyed by wild boars.
Mohammad Abu al Hatab from Tura Gharbiya is yet another example of farmers losing their lands behind the Wall. Mohammad has 15 dunums which have been isolated behind the Wall. He has been unable to reach his lands for some time now, and they have since turned into a wasteland.
The situation is the same for most of the lands isolated behind the Wall in Tura Sharqiya and Anin. Thousands of dunums in these west Jenin villages where the Wall has been completed are being completely destroyed. This also applies to lands that are located to the east of the Wall, but in the so called ‘buffer zone’ of the Wall, where people are forbidden to enter, or use for any reason whatsoever.
The Wall’s ‘buffer zone’ is usually 50-100 meters wide, on both sides of the Wall, but in Jenin people are not allowed – in many cases – to access any of the lands up to 400 meters from the Wall. In areas where settlements are built there are additional buffer zones, that could be anywhere between 200-500 meters wide.
Two months ago, Occupation soldiers confiscated 10,000 dunums of lands from west Jenin villages – located to the east of the Wall – for the construction of a new industrial zone in the area.
In order to destroy these lands as quickly as possible Occupation forces are using a variety of different measures against the people. In Araqa, settlers poisoned all vegetation east of the Wall, in Nazlat Sheikh Zeid Occupation forces often arrest farmers working in their lands, and force anyone caught in the fields out. In Zbuba, Occupation forces do not hesitate to fire live rounds in order to force the people from their lands.
According to Ottoman land laws – still used by the Occupation forces – wastelands and fields not cultivated for three years can be expropriated as ‘state lands’. Occupation forces are using any method possible to force farmers from their lands, and then finding justification in antiquated laws to steal Palestinian lands.
Land confiscation is the reality of the Apartheid Wall in Jenin. The number of dunums of land to be de facto annexed and confiscated after the Wall’s completion is far larger than that lost to the Wall’s construction. In Anin, for example, the amount of land that the people cannot use on both sides of the Wall is 13,000 dunums, which were previously used to grow grains, while other sections were planted with trees.
The same in Nazlat sheikh Zeid, where people are not able to access some 1000 dunums of their land, most of which are to the east of the Wall. In Tura Sharqiya, Tura Gharbiya, Zibda and Yabad, large areas of land are inaccessible and becoming wastelands.
The situation is the same in the villages to the east of Jenin where the Wall is completed or under construction. Occupation forces continue to confiscate more land for the Wall’s “buffer zone”. In Mughayir, Occupation forces are placing boulders on both sides of the Wall at a distance of 100 meters from the Wall, and at a height of 4 meters. The buffer zone in Mughayir and Mutilla is nearly 500 meters wide.
A New Wall?
Moreover, Occupation bulldozers are destroying large areas of lands and uprooting trees in the area form Um Rihan to Kh. Abd. Younis and Bartaâ Sharqiya. This land destruction is believed to be for a new road that will connect the settlements of Shakid, Hinnanit and Rihan to other settlements inside 1948 Occupied Palestine. This new settler road will destroy large areas of lands belonging to the villages of this area, and will separate the communities as it passes through their lands. The road is expected to be connected with the so-called âTrans Israel highwayâ currently being constructed through the West Bank.
It seems possible that the Occupation forces are planning to move the current Wall that separates the six villages west of Jenin from the rest of Jenin district and build a new Wall that will annex the above mentioned settlements, along with large areas of Palestinian land. While this would reconnect the six villages to the West bank, it would in the process leave them with no lands, and therefore no livelihoods.