Denied land access, Palestinians miss olive harvest



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14/10/29  AL-JANIYA - Abbas Yusef points wistfully towards his olive trees, which are bearing their annual fruit. Yet again, the 70-year-old Palestinian farmer will be unable to make the autumn harvest. Yusef s olive groves lie on land either side of an Israeli settlement in the northern occupied West Bank. For years, he has been denied access by the army, and the settlers have ploughed it, uprooting many of his trees. For the 1,400 residents of Al-Janiya -- Yusef s village -- attacks by settlers who have uprooted trees and burnt Palestinian farmland have become a daily occurrence, he says.

"Each time I try to get to my olive groves, an Israeli soldier tells me I can t go, because it s been designated a closed military zone ," Yusef says.

"My father planted those trees, seed by seed, and I toiled over the land," he sighs, pointing to one section of his land, now farmed by settlers. This year, for the first time since 2000, Yusef was allowed access to his land, but only for two days -- not nearly enough time to gather all the olives during the harvest that begins in early October. When he got there, he found 400 of his trees had been uprooted. UN figures show that since the start of the year, around 7,500 trees have been damaged or uprooted across the West Bank.