Yesterday land belonging to Jabara village in Tulkarem district was destroyed in a serious fire, destroying some 1500 dunums of agricultural land and 5000 olive and almond trees. Occupation forces at the gates in the Wall prevented villagers and fire engines from getting to the scene of the fire in order to extinguish it. Local activists report that Israeli forces or settlers may actually have started the fire, as has happened in the past.
***image2***Land behind the Wall has frequently been set on fire in recent years, destroying thousands of shekels worth of harvests. The lands destroyed by yesterdayâs blaze belong to 27 Palestinian families who earn their living from farming.
Tulkarem district suffers from arson perpetrated by settlers and occupation forces throughout the summer period. As the heat dries out the land, a small fire spreads quickly with the wind fanning the flames. At the beginning of June, another fire was set in an area adjacent to the Jabara village lands. Around 300 dunums was destroyed, belonging to farmers in ar Ras. In recent months, lands have also been destroyed by fires in the nearby Faraâon village.
The villagers say that the fires are part of a policy by the occupation forces to annex the lands on the other side of the Wall. The destruction of trees and crops creates huge income losses for the farmers and some cannot find the money to cultivate new crops or to plant new trees, and even then it takes years before they bear fruit. This means that the lands lie bare, and under Israeli law any land not cultivated for three consecutive years can be confiscated. Farmers lose their livelihoods and are forced to find sources of income, sometimes moving away from the villages into the cities.