Open letter from Jayyous regarding Zufim settlement and Lev Leviev

January 6, 2012

Jayyous has some of the most fertile agricultural lands in Palestine, providing 75% of Jayyous' income and fruits and vegetables to people throughout the West Bank. Furthermore, this area is significant because it contains artesian water wells which irrigate more than 8000 dunams (approx. 1977 acres) of land planted with all types of citruses and other fruits. These wells also irrigate 120 dunams (approx. 30 acres) of greenhouses which, throughout the year, are planted with tomatoes and cucumbers. These lands and those in Qalqilya and the village of Falamya are situated on the western drainage basin, which is this biggest of drainage basins in the West Bank, containing 362 million square meters of water per year. With this taken into account, Israel’s annexation wall was built and settlements were expanded to isolate 75% of these fertile lands as well as the drainage basin, thus depriving the citizens of their lands and water. In addition to this, the settlement of Zufim was built on parts of Jayyous’s lands. Initially, 200 dunams (approx. 49 acres) of these lands were confiscated by the Israeli army under the pretext of building a military camp, but, in 1991, they were used as a site for constructing the settlement of Zufim, which itself began to expand at the expense of Jayyous' neighbouring farmland.

The expansion of Zufim on Jayyous' farmland has continued since 1991. As examples from just this week, one of Jayyous’ farmers reported that settlers from Zufim started installing electricty poles on his land. A bulldozer from Zufim is currently tearing up the farmland of other farmers from Jayyous, and Israeli police have refused to take any action to stop this. Another farmer from Jayyous reports that many new Zufim settlement homes are now being built on his land despite an Israeli court ruling forbidding this.

Billionaire Lev Leviev has financially sponsored the construction of the Zufim settlement, whose area has reached 600 dunams (approx. 148 acres) so far, and which continues to expand and encroach on agricultural lands. Therefore, he deprives many Palestinian families in Jayyous from earning their living, as well as depriving them of their water. Thus, unemployment amidst agricultural workers has increased to more than 75%. Settlement construction, Israel’s annexation wall, and settlement expansion, have all created unemployment, poverty and misery for the families affected by them.

Nonprofit organizations in the US like the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and individuals who care about human rights like Daphne Guinness have an obligation to support people’s right to live in dignity, and to support Jayyous’ families’ efforts to remain on their lands, instead of cooperating with Lev Leviev who steals our lands, and food in order to build illegal settlements. For the sake of our community, families and children, please do not help Lev Leviev to whitewash his illegal settlements on Jayyous’ farmland.

Thank you,

 

Sharif Omar
Jayyous Land Defense Committee