Salfit: Stranglehold of Wall leads to dispossession for Palestinian farmers
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Salfit: Stranglehold of Wall leads to dispossession for Palestinian farmers

***image2***Farmers in the ghetto of Deir Ballut, Rafat, Zawiya and Mas’ha (north-western Salfit district) are facing the devastating reality of permanent loss of their lands by the Apartheid Wall. Cut of from the rest of the West Bank and their fields, Palestinian farmers in the area are losing all sources of livelihood.

The Apartheid Wall cuts deep into Salfit and isolates farming communities from their arable lands. Access to these fields through the gates in the Wall has been denied for several months. Occupation Forces defined the gates in Mas’ha, Zawiya and Deir Ballut as “seasonal”, to be opened for limited periods of the year. The last period they were open was during the olive harvest in October. Despite the coming of a new “season” farmers are being prevented from planting their lands by the vicious permit system imposed by the Occupation.

This system gradually dispossesses the farmers of their land while providing a convenient cover for the Occupation in its propaganda that it provides access to isolated lands. The reality is that the Palestinian land is being permanently annexed and prepared for further settlement expansion. In Mas’ha, 150 farmers applied for permits to cultivate their lands. Just 7 were granted and for the last two weeks those permit holders who went to the gates in the Wall have had their permits torn up by Soldiers. The same mechanism of closure is being applied on farmers in Zawiya and Deir Ballut.

The villages, located to the West of the West Bank have suffered serious land dispossession before. Deir Ballut lost almost half of its lands as a result of the Nakba, while the whole area has been under constant attack since 1967. In the settlement construction around the Ariel Finger, Deir Ballut lost 1200 dunums of additional land and over 7000 dunums of Zawiya’s land have been stolen. Now, with the construction of the Wall and the isolation of the villages from their remaining lands, Palestinian existence in the area is seriously threatened.

Zawiya and Mas’ha will be left with 2000 dunums which represent little more than the built up areas. Dair Ballut is losing 80% of its agricultural lands. The villagers have resisted the Wall since the beginning of its construction in June 2004. Many have suffered injuries but succeeded in repeatedly blocking the bulldozers and engineers. Eventually, the construction of the Wall was completed as the Occupation applied intense coercion and attacks upon the villages. While the international community stands idle in applying the pressure required to make the Wall fall, Palestinians continue to challenge the Occupation under conditions which threaten a new Nakba.