This is an update from the Jordan Valley where our concern for the Palestinians in this remote region grows each day. MachsomWatch has accompanied the Palestinian farmer-communities in the Jordan Valley for years. Most of them reside in makeshift structures, with no schools or health clinics, no running water, electricity or minimal utilities. Most residents hardly earn a living, and their livelihood is based on sheep and goat herding and traditional agriculture.
The past few weeks have been very intense for our volunteers. We have received call after call from the shepherds in the Jordan Valley as residents there were delivered demolition orders.
Demolitions in Thabat Mar’l: On November 7th two of our volunteers were driving down to the Jordan Valley for what they thought would be an ordinary shift. A call came in from the hamlet of Thabat Mar’I informing us that a bulldozer was on its way to demolish a house in the village. By the time our volunteers arrived the bulldozers were leaving. They found frightened women and children calling to our volunteers, saying: “We’re next. They’ll be back in a few days…”
Not quite an hour later our volunteers heard that the that the army was carrying out a demolition in Furush Beit Dajan: a farm storehouse built in stone over a water pool, and all the rubble had collapsed into the water. Later the army headed elsewhere and demolished sheep pens. Our volunteers didn’t make it there as dark was descending.
Announced expulsions in Ein Hilweh and Um Jammal: A note placed under a rock at the beginning of November informed the residents of these two Palestinian communities that they would be evacuated and their tents demolished within 8 days. At the same time the Minister of Housing Yoav Gallant announced a plan to double the number of Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley. MachsomWatch volunteers in collaboration with other human rights organizations rallied to offer support to the 300 residents of these impoverished communities.
That weekend a contingent of over 100 activists, journalists and several members of Knesset headed to Ein Hilweh and Um Jammal to express our solidarity with the 300 men, women and children of these hamlets who remain stunned, depressed and extremely anxious. Palestinian community leaders expressed gratitude for the turnout and repeatedly told us that they do not want charity. What they need is stability, water, electricity, medical care and schools for their children. None of this has been available to them for decades.
We know that only international pressure could convince the Israeli government to cease demolishing Palestinian homes, and confiscating residential tents, farming machinery, water tanks and livestock.