In One West Bank Village, New Barrier Route Won't Help

Israel says moving separation fence helps Palestinians access land; one farmer calls decision 'a disaster.'

Farmers in the village of Jayus, in the northern West Bank, were not overjoyed over the defense establishment's reported decision to move the separation fence, thus giving the villages there easier access to their lands.

"Israel's decision is a disaster for us," said Jayus farmer Sharif Khaled.

Until now, Khaled would pass through the fence every morning and evening, via a special gate the Israel Defense Forces opens three times a day, in order to access his lands and greenhouses west of the fence.

He and his wife returned home Monday at 4:30 P.M., as they have been doing since October 2003. He showed the soldiers at the gate his special IDF-issued work pass, and entered Jayus.

However, even after the fence is moved, Khaled will have to go through a similar gate in the new fence, he said.

Contrary to Israel's announcement that 2,600 of the village's 3,000 dunams will be east of the new fence, another 6,000 dunams of Jayus' land will remain west of it, Khaled said.

"We had hoped the new fence would be on the Green Line. It will leave 6,000 dunams west of the fence and only 2,000 on our side. It will still be difficult to reach the land," he said.

Khaled has 175 dunams of land west of the fence, where he grows vegetables and fruit. He must renew his permit every few months in order to access his lands. However, he fears that by the end of this month, he may not be able to do so.