Jordan Valley: The settlements are draining the springs of the Jordan Valley

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Dphane Banai (report), Nurit Popper (photos)

En (spring) Sukut – sad. It’s saddening to see such a beauty spot as this spring die out due to the greed of the settler colonists. There used to be 3 pools here. One served to water the cattle, sheep and goat flocks that belonged to the Palestinian shepherds of the area; 2 other pools contained pure, sweet water. A neglected nature reserve to be sure, but still wonderful. The first pool has dried up completely. Not a drop of water there. In recent years the water levels had dropped to mid-point. It’s June 6. The summer has barely begun and followed a very rainy winter!! And there’s no water.

Next to the spring a pump has been installed, apparently serving the Jewish colonies of the area, those that steal huge quantities of water from nearby Bardala and En Al Beda. But the colonists’ greed knows no boundaries, and when they dehydrate 90% of the Palestinians in this region, they actually dehydrate us all, Israelis, for the over-pumping of the Jordan Valley aquifer/ground water dries us too, destroying our beauty spots. Apparently, the pump is just a part of the sewage pipe system flowing from Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighborhood, all along the Valley, for farming purposes. For colonies only. Even sewage that is originally Palestinian is not given to Palestinians…

Just a year ago, the State of Israel recognized the illegal colonist outpost of Gin’at Sal’it. In international eyes it is still illegal, just like all the other colonies in the Occupied Territories. Not a whole year has passed, and that very colony has begun to expand and plant trees close to the shepherd communities of Al Farisiya. These communities have been planted in this area for decades, perhaps centuries. Generations of shepherds were born and raised there. They were already stressed when the trees were planted, even if such planting took on an innocent appearance. The barbed wire fence surrounding them proved that such plantings were not as innocent as all that.

And here, now, are the bulldozers, and the top of the hill rising right above the Palestinian families, a structure is being built that will serve as a high-school Yeshiva. Dozens of youths, graduates of the ‘flag marches’ in Jerusalem, will invade the Palestinian homes and make their lives a living hell.

About 2 kilometers from there as the crow flies from Shadmot Mekhola, a huge concrete skeleton of a building has been standing for over a decade, unfinished, that had also been meant to serve as a high school Yeshiva. Would it not have been simple to conclude its construction instead of erecting another? It clearly attests to the obvious goal – expulsion, dispossession and takeover of more and more Palestinian land.

When we stopped there, I had a moving surprise. The father of this family, sitting with his children at the tent entrance, got up, and when he saw me, cried out joyfully: “Daphne! It’s been so long since we’ve seen you!”  He turned to his children and wife and told them how we monitored the Tyassir Checkpoint (over a 10 years ago) and helped passersby there.

Near the track going up to Itamar colony, between the colonies of Mekhora and Gitit, east of the Allon Road, we saw a large cattle flock surrounded by 5 (obviously religious Jewish) boys with long side-curls.