Khalid Yassin of Ram Allah Human Rights Centre told Aljazeera.net on Tuesday that farmers in the West Bank village of Mas'ha had in effect been banned from their properties since 4 July due to the closure of Gate 46.

"Entry was always difficult - Israeli troops only allowed access at a couple of times during the day.

"But now occupation forces have shut the gate for good, even though cattle still need to graze and crops need to be tended to. The olive harvest in October and November will be impossible," Yassin said.

No access

Yassin added that other gates, such as Gate 45, had been shut for more than 18 months and that farmers had no practicable access to their own land or any say about who might have access to it on the other side of the wall.

"Soldiers told people in Mas'ha to use Gate 48 - which is an 11km walk. Is it reasonable to expect farmers to walk 44km every day just to visit their own farms on the other side of the wall?

"In any case, they will not have the right permits to enter 48 - and will have next to no chance of successfully obtaining one," Yassin concluded.

Delayed response

Aljazeera.net contacted Israel's District Coordination Office in Qalqilya, the Civil Administration and a spokesman for Israeli occupation forces to explain why Gate 46 was shut.

No one could give an immediate response.

The separation wall was built through the Palestinian village of Mas'ha in September 2003.

The built-up residential and business areas ended up on one side, with 92% (or 5700 dunams) of the agricultural land on the other.