Makhool is situated just higher in the Valley than Al Hadidiya and like them their land is also surrounded by Israeli Military bases and very close to this small community is a training ground and firing range. The road, just 100m away from the homes, is Israeli controlled and busy with settler and military traffic. As a community who rely on grazing sheep, they face many problems from Israeli’s if their sheep wander onto the nearby road. ‘It causes us problems’, said Josef, who explained ‘if they are on the road, they are taken’.
For the last six years the people of Al Hadidiya have faced constant intimidation and threats from the IDF to leave their homes and farmland in the Jordan Valley. They have had homes demolished, farm machinery confiscated and to date have demolition orders on all of their remaining homes and animal shelters. There are eight families left living in tents with no water or electricity.
On Thursday 23rd of October we travelled to Nablus to meet a prisoner Said Lataba who had spent 31 years in prison, the longest time any Palestinian had spent imprisoned to date. He was released just last month at the beginning of his 32nd year in prison. He welcomed us into his home as he prepared for his wedding celebrations to take place the following day. He told us that his wife to be is also an ex prisoner.
Sitting under a tree outside Jassir's house, after a day of travelling in the Jordan Valley, my surroundings felt calm and peaceful. In reality Jassir knows that any day the Israeli Army could turn up and destroy his family home. It would not be the first time he would have to live through such an experience.
As you cross Al Hamra checkpoint heading for the Jordan Valley you come to a barren area of land with a few demolished buildings and homes made of wood, tin and plastic. Harrab, Suileman, their families, and all the other families of Hamra are surviving under extreme pressure from the Israeli administration that wants to annex the land and ethnically cleanse the area of Palestinians. The first building we came to was a water well and pump that had been destroyed in 1982.
Since 1967 the occupation forces have implemented a series of policies to create extreme water shortages for Palestinians. In 1967 alone Palestinians lost access to the River Jordan and 162 agricultural wells when the border area was fenced off.
Israel’s Control of Jordan Valley Water Resources:
Day One It takes a while to fully process what is going on. The past few weeks have been a blur of preparation, meetings, Arabic lessons, lies to parents (sorry mum, I’m afraid this isn’t Turkey), 30+ hour coach journeys, Lonely Planet guides, and border crossings. As such, it is only when we are actually in the taxi with Fathe that it finally hits me that we’re in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, Palestine. Fathe is a rich vein of information, and is truly passionate about the situation the Palestinians of this region have been forced into.
News Release: Tuesday 8th April
Until 15 years ago the people of Bardala used to collect water from the river. Since then a pumping station has been installed, paid for by the Palestinians but controlled by the Israelis. Palestinians are allowed to use the water from the pump 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. Meanwhile the settlers have unrestricted access to water from their own pumps. On the top of Bardala village there is a large water storage tank that used to be used for the whole village. Since Israel restricted their water use, the tank has fallen into disuse for lack of water.
How do you make a living as a farmer when your land and water has been stolen from you by the Israeli invaders? The answer is that you don’t. You join the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in refugee camps in Jordan, or you work for a pittance in the illegal Israeli settlements spreading like a cancer over the once fertile land of Palestine. The Jordan valley was once the most fertile region for Palestinian farmers.