Israeli NGO blames occupation for Palestinians' poor living standards

 Israel`s military, civil and administrative occupation of the West Bank has led to a dramatic decline in Palestinians` living conditions, according to a Israeli human rights group B`Tselem`s report.

Jerusalem: Israel`s military, civil and administrative occupation of the West Bank has led to a dramatic decline in Palestinians` living conditions, according to a Israeli human rights group B`Tselem`s report.

On Wednesday, the organisation`s website featured "The Invisible Walls of Occupation" analysing the effects of the occupation on Burqah, a village in Nablus township whose inhabitants are subjected to severe travel restrictions, massive land-grabs and stifling planning.

"A rather unremarkable village, Burqah has never taken centre stage in the fight against the occupation, and has not been subjected to extreme punitive measures," the reports says.

"In fact, we chose to focus on Burqah precisely because it is unexceptional, as a case in point demonstrating what life under the occupation is like for the residents of Palestinian villages."

B`Tselem has followed up on 40 persons chosen from the 2,700 residents of Burqah, whose living conditions mirror that of all the village`s inhabitants who work in agriculture and livestock sectors. The report concluded that life in this village has deteriorated.

According to the research, 50 percent of the population of this isolated village, which is surrounded by Jewish settlements declared illegal under international law, is living at or below the poverty line on a monthly income of $530.

The NGO said land grabs and road closures were among the major reasons that led to this situation, since residents cannot access nearly 60 percent of their land because it was taken for building settlements.

Furthermore, the Israeli military closed the main road from Burqah to Ramallah, transforming the short trip to Ramallah from a few minutes` ride into a 40-minute journey.

The report has accused the Israelis of protecting the Jewish settlements despite the illegality of their presence on the occupied Palestinian territories. It added that real change in Burqah and in the rest of the West Bank can only come about when the occupation ends. 

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