Attempts to expel the inhabitants un the occupied Jordan Valley
The Palesinian Jordan Valley\
March 1, 2016 (all day)
Daphne Banai (reporting and photos), Amos Gvirtz and Haya Noach
Zaatara Tapuach Junction Checkpoint: unmanned, but soldiers stand at every branching of the junction. On the road heading south a line of waiting vehicles undergo ID inspection by soldiers.
Gitit Maale Efrayim Checkpoint:unmanned on the road, nor on our way back (4:45 p.m.)
Al Makasser: February 2, 2016, the army demolished the homes and all sheep and goat pens of two families. After the Red Cross donated two small tents (see photo), the army returned and on February 10 demolished those tents as well. People remained exposed to the rains without any shelter. Several days later the Red Cross donated another tent, and the PA donated a shelter for the animals. We bought them plastic cover sheets for shelter. Today the family, along with neighbors of the nearby encampment put up a dwelling tent put together of the remains of sturdy plastic collected out of the rubble. Each of the tents is now covered with plastic sheets for protection from the rain.
The story of the family, as one of its members, a wheelchair-ridden man, told us: originally they come from Samu’a in the Negev, and had left the Negev and wandered in various parts already prior to 1948. In the 1960s they settled here, north of Hamra checkpoint (which then was not yet in existence, of course). In 1967 they escaped to Jordan for fear of the Israeli army, but returned a week later when things calmed down. Today three families with ten children live here. Two of the families’ structures have all been demolished, but not the third.
And here is the story of Israel’s occupation here and its attempts to expel the inhabitants:
At first, right after the area was occupied, in the late 1960s soldiers used to shoot and kill their sheep.
In the 1970s the army came with helicopters and took shepherds and their flocks to quarantine near ‘Ujja. They were released only after their relatives paid steep fines.
Since the 1990s (Oslo Accords), when the region was divided into Areas A, B, and C, where in Area C any Palestinian construction has been totally forbidden, the Israelis began to demolish their homes. However, the frequency and brutality of the demolitions have never been as extreme as at present. Immediately after the demolition, the army blocks all tracks and fields leading to the village in order to prevent any kind of humanitarian aid from arriving. However life force is still stronger and the Palestinians manage to forge some small opening through which helpers arrive, and then the army returns and demolishes, time and time again. Clearly, then, the point here is not any violation of construction laws but rather total/final expulsion.
Khalat Al Khader – The first demolition here was on February 11, 2016. Now, on a small hill, about 100 meters from the fence of the Jewish settlement Mehola, stand four brown plastic chairs. This is the living room of the home of two entire families of Khalat Al Khader. All they have left is scattered around, exposed to the sun and to the cold at night, two days after the second demolition of their home within two weeks – a pile of junk, tattered blanket and plastic sheets and… naturally, a toilet donated by the European Union – are all that is left of the five dwelling tents and three sheep and goat pens of the inhabitants. The family sleeps on a few matrasses. Under the water tanker on the opposite hill are some more junk piles, all that is left of the home of a third family which broke down and left, seeking its future elsewhere. Such is the transfer of the Palestinian inhabitants of the Jordan Valley.