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Israel restricts farmers' access to Bethlehem land

Feb. 27, 2013 4:41 A.M. (Updated: March 3, 2013 4:41 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities have installed an iron gate at the entrance to a Bethlehem neighborhood, restricting Palestinian farmers' access to 400 acres of their land.

Qadis, near Husan village, borders Beitar Illit and locals fear Israel plans to annex the land to expand the illegal settlement.

"A few days ago, we were surprised when we found out that the security department of Beitar Illit erected an iron gate at the entrance to farmers’ lands," Husan resident Fayiq Hamamra told Ma'an TV.

"This gate will deprive farmers from accessing and tending their lands. Farmers will be allowed to access their lands only during limited hours of the day, and that will result in damages to the crops especially since some crops are being irrigated, and some farmers prefer to irrigate their crops at 5 or 5.30 in the morning," Hamamra added.

Locals had previously removed the gate after skirmishes with settlers and security guards, but Israeli authorities rebuilt it.

The gate adds another obstacle for farmers in Qadis, who say they are frequently attacked by Israeli settlers.

"They throw stones at us while we plow the land, and while women pick up vine leaves," a farmer told Ma'an TV.

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