Israeli Farmers Are Working Palestinian Land Alongside West Bank Separation Barrier

The route of the separation barrier deviated from the Green Line and cut off Palestinians from their land, which is now being cultivated by nearby Israeli farms

The separation barrier separating Palestinian residents from their agricultural land, Mateh Yehuda regional Council, Israel, March 27, 2079.

Farmers in the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council near Jerusalem are growing grain on the farmland of Palestinians whose access has been cut off by the separation barrier.

Aerial photos show that the land has been under cultivation for the past six years. An association representing Jerusalem-area farmers confirmed that members are growing wheat on the land.

When the barrier was built, in the early 2000s, it separated many Palestinian farmers from their farmlands.

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Aerial photos of the area of the Israeli farming community of Moshav Aderet show that until the late 1990s, land between the so-called Green Line, Israel’s pre-1967 border, and Palestinian villages in the West Bank were cultivated.

One narrow tract is around 15 kilometers (9 miles) long, spanning from the edges of the adjacent villages of al-Deir and Qila right up to the Green Line.

In 1999 this plot was still being cultivated but early the next decade the route of the separation barrier deviated from the Green Line. As a result, several acres remained west of the barrier, close to Aderet, with Palestinian farmers unable to reach them.

Aerial photos from 2012-13 showed that this plot was being cultivated again, despite the continued inability of Palestinian farmers to reach it. It has been used for cereal crops that don’t require irrigation.

A visit to the area reveals that an earth dike was built along the Green Line. West of it are plots belonging to nearby Jewish villages, but close to the plot in question there is a break in the dike, allowing access from the west.

At the offices of the farmers’ association that is run jointly by the area’s moshavim, it was confirmed that they are using this plot “right up to the separation fence. In the riverbed there, near the moshav of Nehusha, we’re growing wheat at the moment,” the organization said.

“This story allows a peek into the jungle Israel created in areas left between the barrier and the Green Line. This area, called ‘the seam’ by Israel, is gradually becoming a looting ground for anyone who can grab a plot while exploiting a reality in which tens of thousands of West Bank residents are unable to reach their lands,” Dror Etkes of Kerem Navot, a nongovernmental organization that researches Israeli policy in the West Bank, told Haaretz.

The organization relied on aerial photos taken by Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank.

“All this proves that the route along which the barrier was built passes mostly through the West Bank, serving political interests, as anyone with eyes in his head saw and understood as the barrier was being built,” Etkes said.

The Jerusalem-area farmers’ association at Mateh Yehuda did not respond to requests for comment.