01/13/2023, 19.16
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Israel's new wall dispossesses West Bank farmers

Israel has started building a nine-metre wall west of Qaffin, northern West Bank, to run for 45 km with fortifications and electronic devices. The area was once accessible three days a week, now “we will be prevented from entering completely,” says a Palestinian farmer. UN secretary general criticises Israel's “unilateral initiatives”.


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) –  Israeli authorities have started construction of a concrete wall west of the town of Qaffin, north of Tulkarem (pictured), in the northern West Bank, separating Palestinians from thousands of hectares of farmland.

The new, nine-metre wall will run from the village of Salem to the city of Tulkarem, for about 45 kilometres once completed, with added fortifications and electronic surveillance devices.

“Farmers from the town of Qaffin alone will be denied access to 5,000 dunums (500 hectares, 1,236 acres) of their agricultural land, along with tens of thousands of dunums in neighbouring villages,” said farmer Muhammad Saeed.

"In the past, we used to enter for three days, and they (Israeli authorities) often prevented us under security pretexts, but with the construction of this wall, we will be prevented from entering completely, as there is an intention to harass us and seize our agricultural lands.”

“These are Palestinian lands,” said Tayseer Amarneh, mayor of Akba, in Tulkarem district. “With the construction of the wall, we will not be able to access them under a security pretext. Our lands will be robbed under these weak pretexts."

The Israelis first built a fence; now they are building a concrete wall; meanwhile, Palestinians “are losing their land”, which they have farmed since time immemorial.

Last November, then Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz approved the construction of a reinforced concrete wall in the northern West Bank about 100 km long.

Israel began building a wall in 2002. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, it now runs 712 kilometres, 85 per cent inside the West Bank and not along the Green Line that existed in 1967.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the wall built by Israel inside the Palestinian territories is illegal.

Yesterday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres openly criticised Israel on the sidelines of the Security Council meeting, expressing concern for the “unilateral initiatives” undertaken recently.

The reference is to the recent "visit" by Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to Temple Mount/al-Aqsa Mosque compound and last year’s violent unrest, the bloodiest since the end of the Second Intifada.

For the UN chief, 2022 was a “deadly year”, Guterres said, for both Israelis and Palestinians. He added that while “There is no justification for terrorism”, certain choices and decisions do not help dialogue and peace must also be denounced.

“At the same time, the expansion of settlements by Israel, as well as home demolitions and evictions, are driving anger and despair,” Guterres noted.

Last, he said, “I am also very concerned by the unilateral initiatives that we have seen in recent days. The rule of law is at the heart of achieving a just and comprehensive peace, based on a two-state solution, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements”.

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