A Critical Juncture Reached in the Jordan Valley
Since Sunday May 3 at dawn, Israel is undertaking an unprecedented military operation in the Jordan Valley, occupied West Bank, which is likely to last until Saturday or Sunday. Hundreds of military vehicles, helicopters and heavy machinery are currently destroying Palestinian land and threatening Palestinian crops and new born lambs. Five communities have been asked to evacuate and entire families are living in makeshift shelters while explosions and shootings are shaking the area. http://jordanvalleysolidarity.org/index.php/home-2/190-english-categories/news-from-the-jordan-valley/2015/826-media-alert-6th-may-2015
The statement above was submitted in a press release via the network of Palestinian grassroots community groups from all over the Jordan Valley and international supporters, known as the Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign. Military training was underway through the weekend in the valley- where over 90 percent is Israeli controlled Area C and where many Palestinians live and work their land through the imposed struggle of water, land and resource theft- all which are diverted to the illegal settlements in the area; this includes the digging to critical depths of water resources and establishing Jewish only wells in the land.
On this sweltering day, as IWPS international volunteers made their way through the embattled area, dozens of Israeli military jeeps, bulldozers and army vehicles could be seen coming from every direction. “This is how they work,” guide and researcher Raid Moqdi states, “They turn an area into a ‘closed military zone,’ and within two to three years, it becomes a settlement.”
Palestinians who live in the Jordan Valley are at constant risk of home demolition and forced displacement, such as the Arab semi nomadic Bedouin community who are being ethnically cleansed from the area. The group, who celebrate cultural traditions of poetry, dances and music, live a simple life reminiscent of ancient times within the valley and are the target of ominous plans formulated in 2011 by the Israeli government which plan for the forcible removal of 27,000 Bedouin from the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem, into controlled communities- the entire plan is to be seen to completion at a maximum of 6 years. Ever since Israel occupied the West Bank, the Bedouins have been forced to relocate several times to make space for new Israeli settlements, new so-called ‘nature reserves’ and military firing zones. The so-called Civil administration, the Israeli military authority that implements the occupation in the West Bank, has filed for objections plans for establishing a new settlement in the Jordan Valley. http://www.stopthewall.org/2014/09/30/ethnic-cleansing-bedouins-jordan-valley
In addition to the staggering criminality and moral bankruptcy of this ethnic assault along with the crude military incursion into the land, including the arbitrary evacuation of Palestinian communities therein for military exercises, there is the staggering duality of the faces of the Jordan Valley itself. Whilst Palestinian’s lands, including the animals they are in guardianship of, thirst for stolen water- and while the land is dotted with the wreckage of home demolitions, ever present and sometimes just meters away can be seen lush landscaping, thriving farm land and greenhouses bursting with fruit and flora- in the land the Israeli government has stolen, which is fertile from the water they have stolen. This is a land now colonized by 37 illegal settlements, a land where Palestinians cannot build, yet settlers- whose presence in occupied territory is in violation of international law, not only are encouraged to build but do so even on declared ‘closed military zones,’ which is really just closed to the Palestinians who own the land, a catalyst for the blatant theft.
This duality of existence stands as a constant antagonism to Palestinians fighting to exist under the impossible conditions imposed upon them throughout the area. Palestinians like Hassan, 27 who talks with IWPS in front of the pile of debris that, just days ago, was his home. This would be the second time Hassan’s home was demolished- a home where he lived with his children until a recent morning when he witnessed two bulldozers, ten jeeps and around fifty Israeli occupation soldiers approaching.
“They don’t say a word- and they don’t let you say a word to them.” Hassan says quietly. Originally from Tubas, around an hour’s drive away, Hassan’s children have now moved back to the area with their mother since their home in the Jordan Valley lies in ruins. “They were with me everyday here but now I see them once every ten to twelve days.” The young farmer now sleeps on a mattress among the wreckage of what was his home. What is striking about these house demolitions is that the wreckage of the homes sit indefinitely in place- rather than leave it standing and inhabited by a Palestinian family, the Israeli government would rather knock it on its side and leave the debris- and homeless Palestinians- in their wake.
Hassan’s story, though tragic is not unique. Many families in the Jordan Valley’s homes have not only been demolished, but demolished numerous times. Just days ago, four Palestinian family homes in the region were demolished. Per the ISM: Yesterday morning (27th of April 2015) at 5 am in the area of al Makhrouk, al Jiftlik, the Israeli military arrived with bulldozers and demolished four houses belonging to Fathe Abdullah Ahmad, Tareeq, Yakub, Mohammed and Mahmoud Lahafe Dadoub. The houses were located right next to the agricultural settlements of Masu’a and Argaman. http://palsolidarity.org/2015/04/four-families-made-homeless-in-a-day/
The criminal acts being perpetrated against Palestinian and Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley is in stark contrast to what international law defines as the occupying power’s (in this case Israel’s) obligation to protect the civilian population and to administer the territory for their benefit. This includes respecting their human rights and ensuring that their basic needs are met. The demolition of civilian Palestinian homes, as well as the transfer of Israeli settlers into the occupied territory, are strictly prohibited . https://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_jordan_valley_factsheet_february_2012_english.pdf
In the Jordan Valley, every social mechanism of the occupation of Palestine is apparent and the situation has long passed the critical juncture in which the international community, if serious about the protection of the human rights of all people, must intervene.