Take us to your leader®. Then take us to your reader®.
How it works? [Click here]
Who we are
Our Agenda

Latest News
Good & Bad News

101 Palestinian History
Link & Resources
The Valley Galleria
nileMedia Reader

Join US
Contact Us

May 1, 2001
No Planting Allowed. Palestinian farmers face mission impossible

by PMC reporter


Working on one's land has become a dangerous endeavor in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Palestinian farmers have become subject to an Israeli policy of starvation and terror. To date, Israeli occupation forces and settlers have uprooted 181,000 trees and destroyed 3,669,000 square meters of cultivated land. They have also shot or beat to death over ten farmers and injured tens more while attending to their fields. Simply put, the message has been "no planting allowed"!

The consequences however are not very simple!

Earlier this month, the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) published the alarming survey results on the impact of Israeli measures on the Palestinian economy. Presently, 64.2% of the Palestinian population, equaling 2,107,200 people, live below the poverty line. What's extraordinary is that 63% of Palestinians living in rural areas now live below the poverty line, and 29% of them have experienced a 75% or more decline in their income. As a result, 78.8% of the overall assistance given to Palestinian households has been in the form of food. Hunger is knocking on Palestinians' doorsteps in an unprecedented way.

Since much of the local economy in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is based on agriculture, razing hundreds of dunums of cultivated land and killing farmers while in their fields pose a threat to the very subsistence for Palestinians living in the affected areas. Compounded with the Israeli policy of siege and closures, destroying thousands of fruit trees and green houses, other farms threaten to make hundreds of Palestinian families go hungry. In addition, it impedes farmers from selling their crops to neighboring cities. As a result, farmers' crops either rot while they attempt to transport them to the cities or are sold at negligible prices in the immediate area. Either way, the economic results are devastating to farmers. Farmers who own cattle or chicken farms are also severely affected.

The most recent casualty of the Israeli occupation's aggression was 40-year old Atef Wahdan, shot dead on Thursday, April 26, 2001, by Israeli sniper fire while working on his citrus orchard next to Al-Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this month, a 60-year old farmer was beaten to death by Israeli forces in the suburbs of Hebron. On April 15, Israeli troops fired heavy machineguns on a group of farmers attempting to reach their fields near a road used by Israeli settlers. The farmers turned back thankful that, at least, none of them was injured!

On March 10, Palestinian security forces identified the body of 27-year old Ziyad Ayad from Gaza City. Brigadier Sa'eb Al-Agez, Palestinian Security Chief in North Gaza stated that Ziyad died after two tank shells from the near-by Jewish settlements were fired at him while plowing his land plot. Israeli soldiers prevented ambulances from reaching the area to rescue him. Earlier that month, Israeli soldiers severely beat 34-year old farmer Imad Hamdan while working on his land in the Jenin area. He was treated for critical injuries. In January, Israeli soldiers fatally shot 70-year old Ibrahim Abu-Mu'aisseb while tending to his orchard near Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. These stories are examples of the plight of Palestinian farmers. Such a "farming-induced" death trend has terrified Palestinian farmers from working the land that they depend on for food and income. Farmers run the risk of being killed, injured, or having their land razed by Israeli forces.

This policy no doubt aims at starving the Palestinian population in the rural areas. PCBS statistics demonstrate that clearly. Whether the farmer is alive or not, her/his chances of planting their land are scant, because farming has been converted into mission impossible. In order to avoid a dramatic decline in their health, the Ministry of Health now offers complete medical insurance to all farmers and Bedouin tribes for free because they can no longer afford it.

The facts are undeniable. So is the suffering of the Palestinian farmers. For seven months now, their lives and livelihood have been placed in jeopardy. However, the impact of their suffering reverberates throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories due to Israel's policy of siege and closure. Produce shortages have been felt throughout the Occupied Territories. The "no planting allowed" policy is challenging every Palestinian's right to food and nutrition. The impact of this policy will sure be felt years after it ceases to exist. Till then, Palestinian farmers will continue to plunge deeper into destitution.

For further information contact:
Palestine Media Center (PMC)
Tel: 02 240 77 21/9
Fax: 02 240 77 30
E-mail: pmc@palestine-pmc.com