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

Sept. 17, 2015 11:32 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 17, 2015 6:39 P.M.)
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.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in December documented that 80 percent of Gaza's population suffered from food insecurity following Israel's 2014 offensive in the Strip, which resulted in more than 2,200 Palestinians killed.

Although Gaza imports most of its food needs, around 28,600 people in Gaza rely on: farming (19,000 people), livestock raising (6,000) and fishing (3,600), for their livelihoods.

Gaza is highly dependent on foreign aid, a direct result of the nine-year Israeli siege on the tiny coastal territory, which has had its imports, exports, and movements of people extensively restricted since 2006.

The lifting of the siege is a key Palestinian demand in ongoing negotiations for the end of hostilities .
Joe Fattal / USA
Knowing Israel I wonder what they going to take in return. Israel don't give nothing away even if it doesn't belong to them without getting nothing back for it. Will see in few days from now.
17/09/2015 15:40
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