Stolen Land, Stolen Trees, Stolen Livelihoods


Laura Finley


(Photo: Chris Yunker / Flickr)

t r u t h o u t , August 1, 2010

Imagine your livelihood is farming. You grow a variety of products that
have sustained you and your family for generations. Then, imagine that
the Army decides to erect a long fence that blocks you from accessing
your farm. They say you will be able to get a permit to enter your own
land, but when you apply, you are denied. The only person they will give
the permit to is your elderly father, who cannot possible tend the land
as needed and support the family. Already poor, your future is grim.

In 2003, the Israeli Army built just such a fence/wall in the occupied
West Bank village of Jayyus. Today, more than 100 farmers are unable to
access their farmland and, thus, have essentially lost their livelihood,
as many rely solely on their olive, citrus and other trees for income.
More than 50 percent of West Bank residents live below the poverty line,
with some 26 percent living in extreme poverty. While the fence/wall
was being built, the Israeli Army promised the villagers free access to
their land. They are not following through on this promise, as only
18-20 percent of Jayyus farmers have been granted permits to access
their land. Obtaining a permit is time consuming and expensive and,
thus, prohibitive for many.

On July 9, 2004, the Israeli Court of Justice issued an advisory
opinion, declaring that the fence/wall does not lie solely on the Green
Line, but, instead, some 80 percent of it is on Palestinian land inside
the West Bank. This violates the conditions of the 1949 Armistice Line
that separates the State of Israel from the occupied West Bank. The
court ruled that the placement of the fence is unlawful, as it
appropriates large sections of land owned by Palestinian farmers.

Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has called this a human rights
violation and is working to help these farmers obtain permits to access
their land. AIUSA is also asking that the Israeli government issue
permits to all Jayyus residents who have been denied them in the past,
with the eventual result of full access to the farmland for all Jayyus
farmers.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all people have
the human right to freedom of movement and residence. They have the
right to own property and cannot be arbitrarily deprived of that right.
Please consider contacting the Israeli prime minister and minister of
foreign affairs or your local political leaders to seek justice for the
farmers of Jayyus.

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