In 2015 and 2016, Israel extended the Separation Barrier through the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem, cutting Palestinian families off from their agricultural land. I met with Suhaila and Naim, an elderly couple who used to live around 100 metres from their land, but now must travel 20 kilometres to get there.
Rather than simply walk to the end of their road, Suhaila and Naim, who have asked to not have photos of them published for fear of retribution by the Israeli military, must now travel around 20 kilometres and pass through an Israeli military checkpoint to reach their land. They have to make this journey every day to care for their trees and beehives. On a good day, driving this route takes around half an hour. When the Israeli soldiers choose to delay them with extra questioning and checks, the journey takes up to two hours.
The road that used to give Suhaila and Naim open access to their land, but is now blocked by the Israeli separation barrier
Before the construction of the separation barrier, Suhalia went to their land several times a day whenever she felt upset to make her feel better. Being blocked from her land is, she says is ‘the ultimate psychological torture’.
For many other Palestinians in the area, it is not even possible to access the annexed land via the long route through the checkpoint. Suhaila and Naim are classified as Jerusalem residents, which means that they are permitted to cross the checkpoint at any time. Palestinians without this status can only access their land on particular times and days during the olive harvest season, which only lasts two months.
The separation barrier follows a winding route, cutting off many fertile fields