A Palestinian farmer gestures as an Israeli watchtower (rear) is seen near the fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip November 24, 2012.
A Palestinian farmer near the fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip (Reuters)

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has ignored a high court ruling to pull down two illegal fences around settlements in the West Bank which block Palestinian farmers from reaching their own land.

The IDF had vowed to remove the fences after the Palestinian villages of Jaba and Silwad lodged petitions in protest, with the support of human rights group Yesh Din and lawyers Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharia. They claimed that illegal fences had been built around the settlements of Adam and Ofra cut off Palestinian farmers' access to their fields.

But Haaretz reports that the IDF, which said it would take down the fences by 2012, has not even started to plan the dismantling.

After the petitions, the Israeli government presented to the high court a plan to build alternative security fences in the area.

"As part of the background work to map the illegal fencing in the Binyamin area and after examining their legality, a draft has been prepared of a comprehensive operational demand with regard to the security of the settlements, intended to regulate the establishment of alternative security components in the hope of limiting damage to private property as much as possible," read a 2011 statement.

It also established a timetable for erection of the new fences "to be carried out at the end of 2012, subject to completion of preparatory work, authorisation and budget". The fences were listed as high priority.

Following the state's resolution, the High Court of Justice cancelled the petitions, assessing the proposal as "sufficient" to solve the problem. However, the IDF did not obtain defence ministry approval of funding to build new fences and did not tell the high court that it would be unable to meet the timetable.