Since 5 March 2018, more than two weeks ago, large Israeli forces – including infantry, tanks and armored vehicles – have been conducting military training on an almost daily basis near Palestinian communities in several areas in the northern Jordan Valley, mostly near Khirbet al- al-Malih and the village of al-Farisiyah. The troops have been training in the use of live ammunition on pastureland and other farmland indispensable to the livelihood of the local residents. In a number of cases, tanks even drove through the residential area, maneuvering among residents' homes. This morning (19 March), a military force made up of three tanks, a jeep and an armored vehicle drove mere meters away from farmers tilling their land, passing at a distance of some 150 meters from the homes of the community of Khirbet Um al-Jamal. This morning was but one more example of the daily military training routine that Israeli decision-makers impose on the people living in the Palestinian communities of the northern Jordan Valley, with a view to forcing them to leave, ostensibly of their own accord.
On Monday morning, 5 Feb. 2018, Civil Administration personnel and a Border Police force came to the area of Khirbet a-Sakut in the northern Jordan Valley, near the settlement of Mehola. They brought a bulldozer, a truck and crane with them. The force dismantled and confiscated a water pipeline about 400 meters long that had served to irrigate the watermelon patch of Tubas resident Bassem Fuqahaa (62). In a testimony Fuqahaa gave that day to B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh, he related: “It looks like the confiscation was well-planned. They came to take away the pipeline on the very day I planted the seeds. Why didn’t they give me prior warning? They made me lose all the money I invested and left the patch without irrigation.”At around 4:00 P.M. that day, the troops went to the community of Khirbet Um al-Jamal, to the south, and confiscated four unassembled tents that served as the seasonal home of a local family. The tents had been donated to the family by a humanitarian aid organization after the Civil Administration had demolished the family’s tents on an earlier occasion. The troops also confiscated rolls of barbed-wire and bolts of cloth used for tent maintenance.
* The original update erroneously stated that the tents were currently in use.
On Jul. 19, military and Civil Administration forces confiscated two water tanks in Kh. Tall al-Himma in the northern Jordan Valley, along with a pump from a spring used as the community’s main source of water. Solar panels were confiscated there on Jul. 5. The forces then cut a pipe used to bring water from a natural spring to a reservoir in the community of Kh. Um al-Jmal, used for livestock and irrigation. The cruel treatment of these communities, which Israel refuses to connect to the water system, is particularly brazen in the current scorching heat of the Jordan Valley.
On 1 January 2015, with clear forecasts of an impending storm, the Israeli military and Civil Administration demolished the tents and some of the property of five families in Khirbet Um al-Jamal, a shepherding community in the Jordan Valley. Thirty individuals, including 22 minors, were left exposed to the elements, yet authorities did not arrange for alternate housing. The Red Crescent and the PA provided replacement tents, but these do not offer adequate shelter from the rain. In the course of the storm, Israeli human rights NGO MachsomWatch took it upon itself to supply plastic sheeting to the residents to weatherproof the tents. In February 2014 we reported the demolition of all structures in this community by Israeli authorities.
On 30 Jan. 2014 Israeli authorities demolished all the structures of Kh. Um al-Jamal, a small shepherding community in the northern Jordan Valley, citing allegedly unlawful construction. International law allows expelling residents of an occupied territory from their homes only for urgent military needs or for the purpose of protecting the local population. The expulsion must be temporary and reasonable alternative accommodation must be provided. Israel must allow the residents rebuild their homes and remain on the land the military wants them to leave.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.