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From the field

Civil Administration demolishes homes of 4 Palestinian families in al-Mkassar, Jordan Valley

On Thursday morning, 4 June 2015, Civil Administration (CA) officials came to the Palestinian shepherding community of al-Mukasar in the northern Jordan Valley with bulldozers and a military escort. They proceeded to demolish structures belonging to four families, including five residential tents and several livestock pens. After the demolition, aid organizations provided the families – a total of 29 people, including 16 minors – with new tents.

Video documentation of the demolition, filmed by 'Aref Daraghmeh, B'Tselem, 2 June 2015

Al-Mukasar lies between the military camp of Beka’ot and the settlement of Ro’i, on one hand, and Hamra checkpoint on the other. According to residents of the community, the land they live on is privately owned by residents of the Palestinian village of Tammun, who let them live there. The community has lived at the site for several years; the first families set up residence there eight years ago. The community now consists of seven families numbering some 50 residents, about half of them minors. The residents make their living almost entirely off livestock, which they shepherd on land in the area. As they are not connected to a power or water supply network, they have to purchase water privately and have it transported from nearby villages at a heavy cost. The community was first served demolition orders in 2014.

The demolitions in al-Mukasar are part of a longstanding policy by Israeli authorities to displace, citing a host of pretexts, thousands of Palestinians who live in dozens of small communities throughout Area C, the West Bank. At various times, Israeli officials have stated that they are interested in taking over Area C, and particularly the Jordan Valley, with a view to creating conditions that would make Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley a permanent fixture in the long run, even as part of a diplomatic agreement. Meanwhile, in practice, Israel is annexing Area C and taking action to minimize Palestinian presence there by various means, including a policy of preventing Palestinians almost entirely from legally building homes and developing their communities.