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From the field

The village of al-Jiftlik

The Jordan Valley is home to over 20 Palestinian population centers located entirely in Area C. In August 2013, al-Jiftlik – with a population greater than 3,700 in 2007 –was the only village in the Jordan Valley to have master plans, drafted approved by Israel. The three plans approved for the village in 2005 were drafted without input from the residents and confine construction and development in al-Jiftlik to part of the village. At the time of their approval, the boundaries of these plans encompassed only 60% of the built-up area of the village, leaving 40% of the village’s buildings at risk of demolition. The planners did not earmark any land for public buildings, did not permit paving roads and left no areas vacant for future construction and development. According to B’Tselem’s data, since 2005, the Civil Administration has demolished at least 11 residential units in al-Jiftlik, built before the village’s master plan was drafted. As a result of the demolitions, 133 people, including at least 50 children, were rendered homeless. The last five of these buildings were demolished on 24 January 2013, leaving 34 people, including 18 children, without a roof over their heads. In addition, the head of the village council informed B’Tselem that the Civil Administration had also demolished dozens of agricultural structures on village land.

The Mubarak family home in al-Jiftlik, demolished by the Civil Administration on 15 March 2012. Photo: 'Atef Abu a-Rub, B'Tselem, 15 March 2012
The Mubarak family home in al-Jiftlik, demolished by the Civil Administration on 15 March 2012. Photo: 'Atef Abu a-Rub, B'Tselem, 15 March 2012

The Civil Administration approved a hookup to the power grid only for the sections of the village covered by the master plans. However, in practice, only one of three planned village sections was hooked up to the power grid. With no other alternative, the residents hooked up the houses of the entire village to that one power connection, which was not designed to provide electricity to an entire village. Consequently, the incoming current is weak, damages electrical appliances and provides only dim light. According to a September 2012 report by the Civil Administration, a project funded by the PA to build electric utility rooms for a connection to the grid and to channel electricity to the various sections of the village is currently in planning. On 1 May 2013, the project had not yet been implemented.

The head of the local council informed B’Tselem that the village had been hooked up to the water network in 1984. Ever since, despite the doubling of the population, Civil Administration has refused to permit expansion of the water system or to increase the amount of water diverted to it. The old, narrow water pipes cannot conduct the necessary amount of water to all parts of the village, and there is 40% water leakage in the system. In consequence, residents suffer water shortages in the summertime, and must purchase water from water trucks. The village’s application to the Civil Administration in 2006 for a permit to build a reservoir was denied, on the grounds that the requested location is an archeological site. Citing the same argument, the Civil Administration rejected a project initiated by the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection arm (ECHO) of the European Commission to restore the water system in al-Jiftlik in 2005 – a project that had been approved by the Palestinian Water Authority as well as by the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Committee. This rationale was also used as the basis for rejecting a request by the village council to pave new roads in the built-up area of the community, instead of the present narrow dirt roads. That said, when the German Agency for International Cooperation sought to build a medical clinic for the village in 2010, the Civil Administration undertook archeological excavations at its own expense. After archeological artifacts were unearthed and removed from the site, the Civil Administration approved construction of the clinic.