Palestinian Jordan Valley following occupier's crimes: house demolitions and water theft
Zaatara Tapuach Junction Checkpoint – 10:00 and 19:15
A hot-air balloon seen floating above the checkpoint, an electronic device seen attached to its underside, probably a camera.
The checkpoint itself was unmanned, but in each direction of the junction stand soldiers, some stopping Palestinian vehicles and checking papers. A new way of pretending the checkpoint is “open” to traffic.
Jiftlik – we received an alert about a demolition taking place in the Jordan Valley community of the Jiftlik, close to the main road. When we got there two UN cars were there with a crew who was informed of the demolition.
Odeh Ka’abaneh, resident of the Jiftlik, is 21-years old, looks 15. A kid… Got married 5 months ago, but for 3 whole years he and his father skimped and saved and slowly built a lovely house, 200 sq.m. with a veranda, nice furnishings and all.
Now everything is strewn outside and the house has become a heap of stone and concrete. Even the new sheep pen was demolished. Immeasurable cruelty. He receivedthe demolition order in January 2016, and thought that if they hadn’t come by now all’s well. What could he do? The settler-colonists receive more and more land and construct housing because of natural procreation. What about the natural procreation of Palestinians? Don’t they have children? Don’t their children want to marry and make a home for themselves? Since 1967 0.5 applications for construction permits have been answered – literally 0 in 50 years’ time. So they build without permits, “illegal” construction as defined by the occupier’s racist laws.
Odeh wanders lost among his visitors. Who will lend a hand? It’s hot. 44 degrees centigrade and not a bit of shade and what will he and his young wife do in the searing sun? And the sheep? What wrong did they do? They didn’t obtain a construction permit either? Many of them will perish without shelter.
He turns to us for help, his eyes pleading. What shall we do? Except for empathizing we are helpless.
Towards the end of our visit Jordan Valley Solidarity activists arrived. We haven’t seen them for quite a while. They are in the company of two lovely Italian volunteers, just as helpless as we are.
We looked for a grocery store in the Jiftlik to buy some cigarettes. We entered a small place whose owner was so nice, he wouldn’t charge us for the things we bought, and spoke gladly of himself – he’s from Beit Fouriq village (up in the hills near Nablus, west of the Jordan Valley). He has 8 children, some of them married. He has another house in the Jiftlik but a demolition order has been issued for it and he is struggling in the occupation courts over his right to live in it. Some might say – this is a second home, why should they approve? And don’t many Jews have a second home in the Galilee or on Mount Carmel? What right has anyone to interfere in the property of someone who has purchased it legally? He told us he spent 3 years in prison. That’s where his excellent Hebrew comes from…
In our visit in Makhoul, we find out that 2-month old Rami, born with 2 holes in his heart and only a single kidney, sustained severe burns in his torso from a tea pot that his brother dropped unintentionally. Heart-rending, what this sweet baby has to endure.
We ascend to the Umm Zuka nature reserve, and discovered the illegal outpost at a distance of 2 km. from the entrance to the nature reserve, literally inside it. It has been rebuilt, several structures and a corral for the livestock, piles of hay and of course – the live-in truck. The track to the compound is not fit for any vehicle other than a 4X4, and due to the heavy heat we did not hike up to it.
The water crisis in Bardala – this village is the most northern community in the Palestinian Jordan Valley. Its lands reach all the way to the present ‘border’ and even beyond it. The village is located on top of springs and is rich in ground water. Although this village has been recognized as Area B, Israel has established huge water pumps in the heart of this Palestinian community. Israel allowed the Palestinian to pump water at certain spots but limited the depth to which they are allowed to drill, and prohibited changing their pumps which had worn out over the years. As a result, the Palestinian pumps dried out (see photo) and all the water fell into the hands of Mekorot Israeli water company like a piece of ripe fruit. Mekorot allocated a minimal amount of water to Bardala inhabitants after occupying the Jordan Valley in 1967, and from one year to the next, as its population grows and technology advances, Bardala’s water crisis worsens. From a village sitting on a wealth of water and growing very conceivable type of agricultural crop, Bardala has turned into a village parched for water.
Please remember – in the heart of the village, in Area B (supposedly under Palestinian administration), are the Mekorot pumps drawing the Palestinians’ water for Israeli use!!
Several weeks ago the settler colonists of Mekhola and Shadmot Mekhola came out with a media campaign and pressured the authorities about the Palestinians’ connection to the pumps and “theft” of water. It makes sense, even good sense, that Palestinians tapped those pumps operating inside their own village, but hell!! It’s their water… The real thieves here, even if by license (all kinds of agreements Israel forced the Palestinians to sign) and often without permission – are the settler-colonists. A settler-colonist on the average is allotted over 450 liters per person. A Palestinian – 62! And many areas don’t get any water at all. The entire water pumping system by Mekorot in the Palestinian Jordan Valley is one great water theft. Any international law, any international convention, forbids the occupier to usurp natural resources of the occupied territory. Bardala is an extreme case, but throughout the Palestinian Jordan Valley Palestinians are prevented from pumping their own water, running right beneath them.
So last Thursday the Israeli army came and cruelly cut all the pipes that ran water to the Palestinians’ fields. Thousands of corn fields, greenhouses and fruit tree groves were doomed to extinction. Years’ work and money went down the drain. A settler-colonist who arrived with the army forces to see how they carry out the orders of their settler-colonist bosses, said to the Palestinian farmers: “You have too many fields. You need to come work for u in our fields.” (Sure! At a pittance of 8 shekels an hour, under slave conditions!)
When we arrived, the inhabitants first wondered that Jewish Israelis take their plight to heart (they asked us, “Are you from abroad?”) and then showered us with so much warmth and love and corn, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves in face of such gestures on the part of people whose whole world has collapsed, at the hand of our own countrymen…