Irtas campaign for land reclamation starts
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Irtas campaign for land reclamation starts

The grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign launched a campaign on Friday June 4th, 2010 to reclaim agricultural land in the areas of the mountain of Abu-Zeid, Sha’ab Salman, Harikat Sind, and Wadi Abu-Amireh. These are areas in of the village of Irtas which have been negatively affected by the construction of the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem.

The goal of the campaign is to upgrade and prepare the agricultural land for the upcoming tree-planting season to protect it from the occupation and the settlers whose goal is to steal these lands using a law which states that fallow lands can be confiscated by the Israeli government. This campaign seeks to oppose this oppressive system and improve the economic situation of the Palestinian farmers by planting various types of fruit trees.

The total area of these lands to be reclaimed is about 2000 dunams and that an estimated 1500 Palestinians will benefit from the project. The official spokesperson for this grassroots campaign, Awad Abu-Swai, stated that this campaign will be undertaken through the use of manual agricultural tools and will continue until the beginning of the next tree-planting in February 2011. He also stated that this campaign would include several areas within the Bethlehem area, specifically those targeted by the occupation forces and settlers. Finally, he stated that these efforts for land reclamation will be done every Friday after noon prayers.

This land reclamation campaign will not only protect agricultural land from being confiscated by the occupation forces, but its strict use of manual labor will require a greater workforce and effectively provide more Palestinians a means to make a living and contribute to the Palestinian economy as whole. In addition, the project’s proposed methods are in keeping with Palestinian farming traditions, and will thus give the added benefit of preserving Palestinian cultural heritage.