Road closures block farmers from their lands in Qalqilya
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Road closures block farmers from their lands in Qalqilya

In early October, Occupation forces used bulldozers and concrete barriers to block off roads to farmland near the city of Qalqilya. These blockades prevented farmers from reaching their agricultural land during the most important time of the year, the olive harvest.

One of the roads that was closed was the road that led from the farmlands north of Qalqilya to the eastern entrance of the city. The road to the Zufin settlement was also closed to Palestinians for two kilometres, although settlers were still permitted to travel through unimpeded. This closure cut farmers off from dozens of acres of rich agricultural land, where apricots, citrus fruit, and olive trees are grown. The land belongs to over 560 farmers from Qalqilya, whose livelihoods depend on their ability to harvest the produce that is grown there.

Prior to the road closures, the city of Qalqilya had reached an agreement with the Occupation authorities to ensure that the roads and gates would be open to the farmers at certain times. Not surprisingly, the Occupation forces chose to disregard the agreement, and to institute a full blockade. This section of roads near Qalqilya has been a frequent target for road closures since the second Intifada, and the situation has worsened since the construction of the Apartheid Wall, which isolates the farmers from their lands.

This instance of road closures is one of many examples of violence and restrictions on movement that have been imposed upon Palestinians during this year’s olive harvest. It represents one of the primary strategies that the Occupation uses to try and inhibit farmers from accessing their land and from reaping the benefits of their agricultural work.