Palestinian farmers scored a victory Monday, at least on paper, when the Israeli High Court curtailed the army’s power to deny West Bank farmers access to their lands.

In response to a petition from five West Bank village councils, a three-judge panel of the court ruled that a military commander must not close off lands in a way that prevents Palestinian residents from accessing their agricultural lands, "except in cases where there is a concrete need based on exact intelligence, and real threats on the ground," according to an Israeli media report.

The petition, supported by Rabbis for Human Rights, charged that the commander of Israeli military forces in the West Bank (called "Judea and Samaria" by the Israelis) and the Samaria and Judea Police have repeatedly prevented Palestinian farmers from working on their agricultural lands, causing the farmers serious harm by cutting off their principal source of income.

The court, however, ducked another claim made by the petitioners: that settlers are also harming the property of residents and do not receive appropriate punishments. Judge Dorit Beinish, one the three judges who issued the opinion, ruled that the "these claims and this entire issue is on the desk of the most senior decision makers in the State of Israel. These sources should be able to deal with these claims raised by the petitioners quickly."