August 15th to 17th: Visiting the Jordan Valley

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We visited the Jordan Valley – the villages of Al Jiflik, Furush Beit Dajan and Al Farisiya – in the last week.

After the Oslo Agreement about 95% of the Jordan Valley is designed as Area C, meaning all civil and security related authority is executed by Israel, leaving the local Palestinians totally extradicted to arbitrariness. Israel also regards huge parts of the Jordan Valley as special military security zones and so denying access to the area to the original residents.

Until 1967 about 80.00 Palestinians populated the Jordan Valley. Today their number is about 47.000 (nearly half of them living in Jericho).  Israel uses the area not only as a military training ground but especially with plantations and settlements, profiting from the fertile soil and deep ground water resources.

While Israeli farms consume rich amounts of water to grow tropical fruits like dates and all diferent kinds of vegetables, the Palestinian farmers and residents suffer from the lack of water, from evicition orders, house demolitions and the land expropriation.

Israel controlls 98% of the water resources in the area and regularly denies Palestinians the access to water. Because of the water consumption of Israeli farms the original Palestinian wells do not provide enough water anymore for a sufficient farming and to cover basic needs. People have to buy expensive water in tanks and even have to grow different vegetables to addapt to the lack of water (date palms surfive the hot summer month with a minimum amount of water, so a lot of Palestinians switched to grow dates).

If Palestinians in Area C would like build new houses, repair old houses or even would like to dig deeper wells or build new water saving structures they need a permit from the Israeli authorities. Between 2000 and 2007 only 91 construction permits were issued (6% of all applications). At the same time more than 18.000 settler houses have been build in the area.

This policy leads to the construction of a lot of “illegal” houses and other structures in the region. Between 2000 to 2007 Israel issued about 5.000 demolition orders and carried out more than 1.600 demolitions.

It seems obvious that Israel is following a strategic purpose with its policy, trying to remove the Palestinian population for the benefit of its own settlements and plantations.

The Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign and other NGO’s like the Israeli Committee Agains House Demolitions try to support the local population with funding housing and water projects, rebuilding destroyed houses and with putting up civil resistance against the demolitions.

On www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org you can find more information about the Jordan Valley, maps and satelite images of the region, more information on water rights and the agricultural developments as well as a case study on the Jordan Valley. Amnesty International issued a press release in June about the demolition of homes by Israel.

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