Palestinian farmers ordered to vacate lands

Israelis have ordered Palestinian farmers, living in Jericho, in the West Bank, to uproot the palm trees they have grown and leave agricultural lands within 45 days.

The orders came as letters sent to the farmers in an area known as “Area C” and gave the farmer a deadline up to October 7 to vacate their lands.

Shawkat Housheyeh, one of the farmers who received the warning to uproot palm trees, said that the measure posed a threat to the livelihood of thousands of farm workers in the Jericho area.

He urged the Palestinian Authority to fight the Israeli threat to Palestinians working on farms in the 3,000 dunams (about 741 acres) of Dier Hijlah and al-Zour.

He said: “I hope that the [Palestinian] Authority will announce an emergency situation because this [the orders] threatens the 2,000 to 3,000 workers who work in this area”.

According to the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords, parts of the West bank are under full or partial control of the Palestinian Authority.

However, “Area C” falls under full Israeli civil and military control and envelops settlements built since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967.

Walid Assaf, the Palestinian minister of agriculture, recently visited Jericho and gave assurances that the Palestinian Authority would fight the Israeli authorities’ warning to the farmers.

Assaf said: “This is a great achievement for the Palestiian farmers in the (Jordan) Valley area as it was a barren land transferred to farms. We should build on this achievement and we will never allow it to be destroyed”.

In a written statement, COGAT – a unit in the Israeli defence ministry which controls the West Bank – said palm trees in the Jericho area had been planted illegally since they were grown on land of which ownership was yet to be established.

COGAT claimed that farmers on these lands were ‘illegally’ drilling wells and syphoning off water from Israeli hoses.

 

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