Photo: Ma'an News Agency
Palestinian owners access Bethlehem farm after 15-year Israeli ban.(Photo: Ma’an News Agency)

Bethlehem, 8 Rabiul Awwal 1436/30 December 2014 (MINA) – Palestinian farmers from the region of Jabal al-Iqban area east of Bethlehem on Monday (29/12) were able to enter and cultivate their lands after being prevented from doing so by Israeli authorities for more than 15 years.

Head of the Hanata municipality Nayif Obayyat told Ma’an that settlers from the El David and Kfar Eldad settlements nearby unsuccessfully tried to prevent the land owners from the al-Tnuh family from reaching their lands.

Obayyat added that the settlers entered the area and insulted the farmers, who were able to reach their lands through prior coordination with Israeli military authorities, Ma’an News Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting, Tuesday.

The farmers told Ma’an that the lands occupy an area of more than 100 dunums (25 acres), surrounded by Israeli settlements and illegal outposts.

Settlers control more than two thousand donums of land in the area surrounding the plot, and have ringed it with barbed wire to prevent the Palestinian owners it was confiscated from from entering the area.

Since the beginning of the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Israel has confiscated hundreds of thousands of dunums by declaring it state land.

Israeli authorities in 1968 banned Palestinians from registering their lands and subsequently took advantage of previously low rates of land registration to confiscate areas currently or previously in use by locals but not registered as such.

The confiscated lands are then used to construct Jewish-only settlements on the land, while further confiscation often uses the pretext of the settlements’ security. (T/P010/P3)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)