Israeli occupation forces have started to dig a trench in the Jordan Valley, east of Tammun in the northern West Bank, as part of a strategy to exercise more control over Palestinian agricultural land and prevent farmers from reaching their fields. According to the Mayor of Tammun, Jamal Bani Odeh, this is the second such barrier to be created by the Israelis. "The first trench is 5 metres deep and 5 metres wide," he said. "The two trenches are about 2 kilometres apart." The first trench was built after the start of the Second, Al-Aqsa, Intifada in 2000.
The Mayor pointed out that the trenches now isolate around 70 per cent of the town's agricultural land, an area of 98,000 acres. The trenches, he believes, are basically another version of the Apartheid Wall built by Israel as part of its land-grab across the occupied West Bank. Farmers are rarely given permits to access their land and have to make long diversions to get around the barrier.
"Israel claims that the lands are part of buffer and closed military zones," added Mayor Odeh, "or even that they are army camps and training areas." Nevertheless, he was adamant that the people of the area will struggle hard to keep their land and access to it. "This is the role that we can play in the resistance against the occupation," he said.