Top Posts

Top Posts of my time in Israel/ Palestine (July to October 2010)

The Checkpoint an Closure System: The Checkpoint and Closure System

We refuse to be enemies / Wir weigern uns Feinde zu sein – The Tent of Nations/ Das Zelt der Völker in Bethlehem: Sept. 10th: We refuse to be enemies (Engl.) / Wir weigern uns, Feinde zu sein (Dt.)

Walking the Wall in Bethlehem: August 26th to 29th – Bethlehem: Walking the wall

A Palestinian Pastor in Jerusalem / Die Berufung eines Palästinensischen Christen: A Palestinian Pastor in Jerusalem (Engl.) / Die Berufung eines Palästinensischen Christen (Dt.)

Forced Displacement in the Jordan Valley: Recent Newsletter (No 3): Property Rights, Water Policy and Forced Displacement in the Jordan Valley

No Right for Water in the Occupied Territories: The Right for Water


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Good Bye to Yanoun

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After three month it was time to say goodbye to Yanoun and its lovely people.

Last week it rained for the first time this season and a nice rainbow appeared over the Yanouni valley.

And then also the olive harvest started last week. When the settlement outpost around Yanoun where installed the village not only lost parts of its land but also access to some of its olive orchards. The security zone around the outpost prevents the villagers from entering the orchard. Only for about three days per year they get a permit by the army to harvest the olives. Not enough time for doing the exausting work.

In addition on the day when the villagers were allowed to access the orchard they had to realize that all the olives were already gone, harvested by the settlers. One more of the strikes that they had to endure so far. One more story that adds to the dozens of similar stories we heard.

After a quiet emotional good bye last Thursday we went back to Jerusalem for our closing days and in a couple of hours my flight will take off back to Berlin.

It is not possible to catch my experiences and emotions in a few words but I will write more about it soon. Thanks for following this blog so far!



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Start of the Olive Harvest

The olive harvest just started this week and already olives were stolen and trees destroyed in Yanoun:

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The Right for Water

Palestinian Plantations in the Jordan Valley

The Right for Water in the Occupied Territories

Unequal consumption, denied access and the destruction of infrastructure:

Right for Water_ Newsletter No5


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Another story from the Jordan Valley (Part 2)

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Not safe and not sustainable

This week I was on a Jordan Valley tour with Mohammed Njoum from the Union of Agricultural Work Committee (UAWC), a Palestinian NGO . While overlooking Furush Beit Dajan, a community of a little more than 1.000 residents, we were approached by Ismail (19) who invited us to his place.

ismail in front of his family's residential tent

We followed the friendly young man to the nearby old house structures, emergency tents and animal shelters where he lives with his father and brother and their families – all together ten people.

The housing structures were very poor, more than 60years old they looked like they would fall apart with the next heavy rainfall. And the tents or shelters the family lives in lacked proper isolation, roofs or furniture.

They don’t live like this because of poverty, Mohammed explained to me – their flock of sheeps would be worth about 25.000€. But they were forced to leave their original homes and today again have to fear an arbitrary demolition of their belongings. Over a cup of tea we listened to Ismails story.

housing structures of ismails family

His family moved here two years ago after their former houses and shelters got destroyed twice. “They choose the best time to do it”, he explains. “It was the cold season, in January. They came at ten in the morning.” The family was allowed to take the furniture out. But then they destroyed all the houses. The second time happend about five weeks later, after the Red Crescent had provided them with emergency shelters and water tanks. This time they took everything, Ismail remembers.

Ismails family works as shepherds and they keep a flock of about 170 sheeps. On the very morning when we met, Ismail woke up as usual at 5am to grass the sheeps on one of the nearby hills. But when he reached the hills he was approached by soldiers who told him to leave since the army regards the area as a closed military zone.

furush beit dajan

The people of Furush Beit Dajan onced owned about 3000ha of land and are left today with only 300ha for agricultural purposes. They are not allowed to use the rest of the area – even so they still own the property rights – since the army claimed it to be a security area.

Having to sustain a flock of 170 sheeps Ismails family needs a big amount of water. For some time they were able to access a near well reaching down about 50m into the ground. Ismail explains that since Israel extracts water from far below that depth to provide water for a near settlement in the same area the Palestinian well does not have enough water anymore.

water tank delivery

Water for domestic use the family today has to buy from the Israeli water company Mekorot. Ismail explains that they spend about 80 Shekels for one tank with 5cm3 a week. In addition they need one tank for the sheeps every day. Ismails brothers is transporting the water from a spring in 40km distance each morning. They get the water for free but of course have to pay for gas and mantainance.

israeli well and water reservoir

So far, Ismail says, they did not receive a demolition order but could receive one basically every day. They are not connected to the electricity system and the lack of access to water exacerbate their lifes. They can’t do any farming since they don’t own land in the part of the village where the army allows acricultural work and they are afraid of getting expelled again in the future. “It is not safe to life here”, Ismail concludes before we say goodbye. “It is not sustainable.”

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Another Story from the Jordan Valley (Part 1)

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“Now we are working for them on our land…”

abu said giving a tour through jiftlik

Abu Said invites us with a welcoming smile on his face. The head of the city council of Al-Jiftlik just recently built a new home on the northern hills of the Jordan Valley town. Behind the building are still the residential caves his grandfathers a hundred years ago digged into the hills.

Jiflik is located in a sidearm of the Jordan Valley and with about 4.500 residents one of the biggest Palestinian communities in the area. Fertile agricultural land, greenhouses and rich date orchards stretch along the valley while the dwelling houses, animal shelters and residental tents are located on the siding hills.

map of jiftlik: agricultural area in the middle, residential areas on the side. in the middle also 25ha and 85ha of land occupied by settlements

The town is not officially recognized by the state of Israel. But Abu explains that the Israeli authorities allowed the residents to stay and to built houses in certain areas, even so they did not issue official permits for construction work.

We lost big parts of our land in 1967/68, says Abu, reffering to the Six-Days-War when over 800 homes in Jiftlik were razed and its 6.000 habitants ordered to leave. In the aftermath of the war Israel used the former Ottoman Empire absentees law to expropriate absent residents of their property and transfered the land to the newly established Israeli settlements in the area.

view of residential area in jiftlik

Abu describes how residents who stayed or came back after the war shared the remaining property. From the balcony of his house he still can see the land that once belonged to his family. The center of the valley is now covered with two settlement farms with the size of 83 and 25 hectar using a huge amount of water for the cultivation of winegrapes.

The Palestinian community faces serious difficulties because the residents do not receive official building permits. Regularly the Israeli army destroys houses, animal shelters or water structures and in addition the access to water is a huge problem in the town.

bedouin family with the common yellow water tank

“We receive the same amount of water since 1983”, Abu explains. “But then we had been 1.500 now we are 4.500 people here. We have the same small pipes since then, receiving about 15.000km3 a month. The pressure is low and it is simply not enough water for everyone. Especially in the summer month we have to buy water in tanks.” About 500NIS (100€) Abu has to pay per month to buy the expensive tank water, while the settlements in the area receive governmental subsidies for their water consumption.

israeli settlement plantation with electric fence

In addition Palestinian do not receive official permits to repair broken pipes or wells, install new pumps, new water harvesting cisterns or digging deeper wells. Because of the Israeli over consumption in the area the old Palestinian wells do not provide enogh water anymore. In a neighbooring village, Abu explains, Israel digged a deep well just beside a Palestinian owned spring which now runned out of water.

“Sometimes it is just a road in between”, Abu says. “You can see it, the Palestinian land is very dry while they have all the water they need.”

community living in a "firing area"

Besides the small piece of land that is left for his family Abu works today in an Israeli settlement, because he has no other choice to make ends meet. He is hoping for international support especially regarding advocacy work to support the people in their daily struggle and to help them to stay inspite the pressure that Israel puts on them.

Abu also supports an international boycott of settlement and Israeli products to put pressure on the illegal settlements in the West Bank. Maybe he would loose his job in the settlement, he says, but then he would be able to work on his own land again.

going into an uncertain future

Today, he says, “they take our water and we work for them on our land.” And he adds, “I am afraid of the future. We are not officially recognized and they declared the area as a military zone. I am afraid that they are planning to take the whole land.”

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Wir weigern uns, Feinde zu sein

Amal Nassar and a tourist group

(for English see below)

Wir weigern uns Feinde zu sein

Das “Zelt der Völker” in Bethlehem vom Abriss bedroht.

Artikel von mir in “Die Kirche | Evangelische Wochenzeitung”: Wir weigern uns, Feinde zu sein

“We refuse to be enemies” – The Tent of Nations in Bethlehem

Article in English on:

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