Thursday, 17 September 2015

Israel permits Gazans to access farm lands for first time in 15 years


GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday allowed Palestinian farmers to access hundreds of acres of land along the Gaza border with Israel for the first time in 15 years, a spokesperson from the International Committee of the Red Cross told Ma'an.

Suheir Zaqqut said the ICRC has been working to help Palestinian farmers regain access to the land since 2007, when the organization began "talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis."

As a result of the talks, 500 farmers were given access to their fields, which amounts to 3500 to 4000 dunams (863 to 988 acres) of land.

Salih Abu Haddaf, one of the farmers given access to his fields, told Ma'an that he "couldn't find words to express his happiness," as he watched tractors plowing his land in the east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.

Abu Haddaf's son, 15, had never before been able to visit his family's land, he told told Ma'an.

Abu Haddaf said he plans to plant wheat, barley and pea crops on his newly accessible fields.

According to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, agricultural land near Gaza border constitutes 24 percent of the overall area of the Gaza Strip.

Ninety-Five percent of Gaza's arable land lies along the so-called "buffer zone" that is routinely restricted to Palestinians in the Strip, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. more

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