OCHA: South Hebron Farmers Face Economic Devastation

25 January 2007

from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

2007 is set to be a particularly hard year for the Palestinian farmers of the South Hebron Hills, who have already had much of their land annexed by illegal Israeli settlements and face frequent violence and harrassment from Israeli settlers and the IOF.

OCHA states: “Over the last two years Hebron has suffered from drought and water scarcity. In 2006, the rains came two months late (end of December). Water for cisterns may be sufficient if there is additional rain (a minimum of 350mm is needed). So far average household cisterns (80m3) are half-full.

The late onset of the rainy season has had severe consequences for herders, affecting approximately 150,000 heads of livestock and 300,000 dunums of land. Not only will the grazing season be two months shorter but the quality of vegetation will be poorer as many seeds will not germinate. Animal health will deteriorate and herders will have to buy extra fodder. The price of fodder has risen by 35% (one ton of barley was NIS 850 in November and reached NIS 1,200 at the end of December) whilst at the same time the per kilo price of meat has dropped by 15% (from NIS55 to NIS40). Herders are sinking deeper into debt and the poorest, especially the Bedouins near Yatta, further into poverty. Many fear being forced out of business and not being able to pay off debts even if they sell all their herds.”

Please see previous reports on Susiya, Imneizil, and Tuwani for information on the impact of settlement expansion and violence on the people of this area.