Monday, September 25, 2017

Solidarity Walk highlights water issues in the Jordan Valley


By Felix Black - March 27, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jordan Valley] [Freedom Bus] [Area C]

On March 22, over 350 Palestinians and internationals took part in a solidarity walk in the Jordan Valley yesterday.

The walk was organized by the Freedom Theatre, the Jordan Valley Solidarity movement and Thirsting for Justice, and aimed to highlight the problems of water accessibility in Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley due to the re-direction of water supply to Israeli settlements in the same area.

The action, named Walk for Water Justice, forms part of the Freedom Ride for the entire month of March.

The walk lasted six hours, and passed through the three communities of Khirbet Samra, al-Hadidiya, and Ras al-Ahmar, finishing with a concert in Fasay’il al-Fauqa that featured Palestinian bands DAM, Toot Ard, and Ministry of Dub-Key, with dance troops from Nabi Saleh and the South Hebron Hills. 

The Freedom Ride travels through the Jordan Valley for a total of 13 days, with students, artists and activists joining from across Palestine and abroad. It helps with building and reconstruction work, as well as highlighting the region’s issues through workshops, walks, and cultural events. Its main feature is a display of Playback Theatre, in which residents as well as activists can participate in sharing personal stories and watch the Theatre act them out using only mime. 

The walk, in line with the above, was not aimed at being a direct form of resistance but an attempt to raise awareness and encourage solidarity. Yet Israeli soldiers and police kept an ominous presence and continually re-directed the walkers’ route. 
 

Israeli settlement domination

The Jordan Valley covers nearly 30 percent of the total territory of the occupied West Bank. Nearly all of the Jordan Valley falls into Area C, which under the Oslo Accords is under full Israeli military and civil control. In addition, over three-quarters of the Jordan Valley has been declared closed military zones, state land or nature reserves, and is thereby off-limits for the area’s Palestinian residents.

 


 

Since the Oslo Accords, Jewish citizens of Israel have taken over four times more water from the shared West Bank mountain aquifer than Palestinians. Water tanks built by Palestinians require permits that are almost impossible to obtain, whilst those that are built without permits are destroyed.

Water allocation has prompted a boom in the Israeli agricultural industry whilst pushing Palestinian inhabitants to the very edge of existence. 

Villagers from al-Hadidiya described the hardship they face from living next to an Israeli settlement. One said, “We pay 280 shekels for a tank refill, and the water that arrives is polluted. But we have a well right next to us, with water for everyone and our farm animals, but the Israelis control it and don’t let us use it.”

Since the Oslo Accords, Jewish citizens of Israel have taken over four times more water from the shared West Bank mountain aquifer than Palestinians

The Israelis have also confiscated over 4,000 dunams (4 kilometers square) from the village’s land. What’s more, the villagers described a general atmosphere of intimidation by the settlers. The army and police are regularly called in to 'enforce security’ between the two parties, but become complicit with the settlers and often force the Palestinian farmers off of their own land or arrest them.

Furthermor, the village in question, along with many others across the Jordan Valley area, has demolition orders on every single one of its buildings as it is located in Area C, under full Israeli control.

al-Hadidiya has had its buildings demolished six times since 2000. One villager describes how the soldiers would come when the temperatures are either below freezing or above 40 degrees Celsius to terrorize the families as much as possible.

However, the village has land deeds dating back to the Ottoman era stating their right to the land. As one villager states, “For this reason the Israelis have allowed us to re-build our village. If it wasn’t for these papers, we would be gone.” 

There are three legal jurisdictions for the village; Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli. In effect, the Israeli courts can arbitrarily select elements of each one, in order to suit their needs. The Ottoman era papers only delay destruction, as the village’s case is passed from court hearing to court hearing before one session permits demolition through a subjective selection of law. 

The walk also brought to light the use of natural wells by Israeli settlements. Ro’i settlement has an expanse of grown produce, clearly visible through its use of white greenhouse tarpaulin, but is directly sourced by a well confiscated from Palestinians.

The march ended near Ras al-Ahmar, on the seam line between Area A and Area C. A four by six meter wide trench had been dug along the entire line to stop Palestinians accessing Area C except by road. The mass of soil removed runs alongside the trench, de facto confiscating the plots of land it passes through.




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