Since 5 March 2018, Israeli troops including infantry, tanks and other armored vehicles have been training at all hours in the area of Khirbet al-Malih and the village of al-Farisiyah in the northern Jordan Valley. Today, 13 March, forces including at least 20 tanks and dozens of military vehicles have been training throughout the northern Jordan Valley, including just one km from al-Farisiyah. The incessant military training in the Jordan Valley is part of a longstanding policy to drive Palestinian communities to leave, as though freely will.
Israel has intensified military training in the Jordan Valley since Nov. 2017, reducing available pastureland, destroying crops and hurting the livelihoods of local Palestinians. This is part of an effort to drive Palestinians out of area using a callous policy that also includes denied access to development and infrastructure and house demolitions. If residents do leave because of this policy, Israel will have committed a war crime and those responsible, including the minister of defense and the prime minister, would be personally liable.
On Monday morning, 5 Feb. 2018, Civil Administration personnel and a Border Police force dismantled and confiscated a water pipeline that had served to irrigate the watermelon patch in Khirbet a-Sakut in the northern Jordan Valley. At around 4:00 P.M. that day, the troops went to the community of Khirbet Um al-Jamal and confiscated four tents that served as the homes of nine people, including six minors. The confiscated tents were funded by a humanitarian aid organization after the Civil Administration demolished tents in the community in 2014.
On 22 July 2017, three residents of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley were grazing their flocks on nearby pastureland when a dud - unexploded munitions - went off, killing ‘Udai Nawaj’ah, 16. At least two other Palestinians have been killed in the Jordan Valley in similar circumstances since 2014. The military trains close to Palestinian communities as part of a policy aimed at taking over the area, and does not make sure to remove unexploded ammunition. This illegal practice violates the residents’ rights and endangers their lives.
Israeli forces raid two Palestinian Jordan Valley communities in past two months, uprooting and confiscating trees and ruining fields on Palestinian-owned land. Over 75% of Jordan Valley lands have been taken over by Israel, with 150,000 hectares transferred to settlement regional councils. In recent years, Israel has increased efforts to expel local Palestinian communities. Palestinians now own a minute portion of Jordan Valley lands, yet Israel harasses them even there.
On 19 April 2017, in the Jabal al-Baba community, northeast of Jerusalem, the CA demolished a 45-sqm pre-fab donated by an aid agency that served as home to a family of seven, including two minors. Their previous home had been demolished on 26 Jan. 2017. Jabal al-Baba numbers some 350, about half of them minors and is in an area Israeli authorities designated for an expansion of the settlement of Maale Adumim so as to achieve a contiguous urban bloc from there to Jerusalem. The previous demolition there was on 26 Jan. 2017, when authorities demolished three families’ residential tents and two livestock pens.
On 5 April 2017 the CA evacuated nine families from Kh. a-Ras al-Ahmar, the northern Jordan Valley, from 5:00 P.M. until 5:00 A.M. the next morning. Forty people, incl. about 15 minors, were forced to leave behind their sheep and property, to vacate their homes and spend the night out in the open. In 2016, families from the community were evacuated ten times on the same pretext. The repeated evacuations cause an intolerable disruption to daily life, are unjustified and unlawful. Israel must immediately stop the evacuations and all other measures it is taking to drive out residents of the Jordan Valley.
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.