Bad Fences Make Bad Neighbors – Focus on Jayyus

March 01, 2004

“There is only one thing I can do. I will buy a tent and move with my wife to live on the other side of the fence among my trees. I don’t know if the Israelis will let me do it. They certainly won’t let me build a house. But perhaps I can live in a tent.” – Sharif Omar, Palestinian Farmer1

Israel wants Palestinian land but it doesn’t want the Palestinian people. Consequently, the Wall is part of a strategy to annex large parts of Occupied Palestinian Territory while caging in large Palestinian population centers. Once complete, the indigenous Palestinian population will be restricted to reservations constituting less than 13% of historic Palestine while illegal Israeli settlers will be able to freely travel throughout Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The first phase of the Wall’s construction is complete. If the Wall were truly about security, the Wall would have been built on Israel’s 1967 pre-occupation border (the “Green Line”). However, the Wall is not being built on the Green Line, but rather well within Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The Case of Daba – Palestinians Trapped between the Wall and the Green Line

Jayyus is located in the governorate of Qalqilya and has a population of approximately 3,100 Palestinians.
The town is located six kilometers into Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Jayyus is a farming town that formerly provided produce to 60,000 Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank.

In 1986, Israel confiscated 1,362 dunums2 of Jayyus land. The illegal Israeli colony of Zufin was built on the town’s confiscated lands.

In 1990, Israel confiscated 30 dunums of Jayyus land. It is now being used as a dump site for the nearby Israeli colonies.

Effects of the Wall on Jayyus

The Israeli Army has built a militarily-fortified barrier 6 kilometers east of the Green Line, currently the furthest point into Occupied Palestinian Territory of the first phase of the Wall.

The Wall has been built between Jayyus homes and Jayyus farmland, thereby separating Jayyus farmers from their fields. The farmers’ land is now situated in a “closed zone” to which the farmers must seek permission from the Israeli Army to access.

Approximately 9,000 dunums of agricultural land are separated from their owners, of which 2,500 dunums are irrigated crop lands on the other side of the Wall. These irrigated crops provide 90% of the town’s total economic revenue.

The Wall separates Jayyus farmers from 120 greenhouses, 15,000 olive trees and 50,000 citrus trees. This area annually produces 17 million kilograms of vegetables and fruits.

All seven of the town’s water wells are behind the Wall. As a result, the town receives running water only two hours every three days, with an average per capita water consumption of 20 liters per day, five times below the World Health Organization’s daily per capita minimum health standard of 100 liters per day.

Due to the Wall and the accompanying travel restrictions, Jayyus residents are denied basic services, such as access to medical care located outside Jayyus.

480 of 550 families (87%) have lost their sole means of livelihood and 180 families are receiving humanitarian aid.

In order to farm their lands, 32 farmers were living in tents on their land, separated from their homes and families. In December 2003, most of these farmers were rounded up by the Israeli Army and sent back to Jayyus. 

The Jayyus “agricultural gates”, purportedly meant to facilitate Palestinian farmers’ access to their crops, were closed from October 4 – 20, 2003. As a result, Jayyus farmers lost 90% of their guava crops. Other crops also were damaged.

To date, approximately 40% of Jayyus farmers have received permits to access their land that is isolated on the western side of the Wall, in the “closed zone.” On January 20, 2004, the Israeli Army announced more stringent regulations for obtaining permits to land in the “closed zone.” Farmers must now follow a series of intricate bureaucratic procedures, including obtaining a Land Approval Document from the Israeli Army as well as an Israeli-issued magnetic ID card, before they are granted permits to access their land.

  • 1. Chris McGreal, The £1m-a-Mile Wall that Divides a Town from its own Land of Plenty, The Guardian (UK), November 26, 2002.
  • 2. 1 dunum = ¼ acre.
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