Ramallah: Palestinian farmers cultivating their lands behind the Israeli segregation barrier have been fighting a relentless battle against an invasion of Israeli wild pigs.
Vast areas of lands behind the barrier have been wrecked by the pigs, and the frustrated farmers are set to abandon them. Many farmers have already left after incurring losses.
The farmers believe that the herds of the wild pigs have been introduced around their lands as part of a well-designed Israeli plan to force them to run away.
"The Israelis have released huge numbers of those pigs near our areas, knowing exactly the grave damage those pigs can cause to our crops," Medhat Abu Khader, a Palestinian farmer who has 68 acres of land behind the barrier told Gulf News.
"In rare cases, the farmers have killed pigs which attacked them, and were shocked to find official plastic serial codes around their necks in a clear indication of official Israeli involvement," he said.
Eyewitnesses have also testified that the Israelis have released huge numbers of wild pigs from trucks near the lands.
Once the construction work in the Israeli segregation barrier was almost complete, the Israeli authorities started issuing agricultural permits to Palestinian farmers who could prove their ownership of lands behind the barrier.
"The Israelis are waging a dirty war against the Palestinian farmers. The Israeli authorities grant Palestinian farmers permits to reach their lands, but release huge numbers of pigs to destroy the crops and put the lives of the farmers in danger," said Abu Khader.
The farmers have repeatedly complained and sought help from both the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the Israeli civil authorities, but nothing has been done.
Esmat Zeid, another Palestinian farmer, said "The wild pigs have attacked farmers, killing one near the governorate of Tulkarem and injuring several in other areas."
"Corn is the pigs' favourite food," he said.
A Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture official told Gulf News that there has been no solution for the problem. "We cannot do anything about it," he said.
"We are not in charge of the border checkpoints and we do not have the necessary materials to fight the wild pigs," said Dr Jameel Makhamrah, who heads the Veterinary Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.
He said the heavy spread of the poultry farms around the lands behind the barrier made the situation even worse.
"The huge quantities of dead chicken in the open areas around the Palestinian farms attract more pigs," he said.
"We receive daily complaints from the farmers, but we have nothing in hand to help them," he said.