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Israel seizes land in Jordan Valley in largest land appropriation since 2014


By Sara Cuña - January 27, 2016
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Last week, the Israeli Government announced plans to appropriate 380 acres of fertile agricultural land in the Jordan Valley, the largest Israeli land seizure in 30 years.

 

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon formalised the plan saying the land, just south of the occupied Palestinian city of Jericho, “[is] in the final stages of being declared state land.”

 

Hanan Ashrawi, an official from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, responded saying, “Israel is stealing land specially in the Jordan Valley under the pretext it wants to annex it.”

 

“This should be a reason for a real and effective intervention by the international community to end such a flagrant and grave aggression, which kills all chances of peace,” she added.

 

According to the Jordan Valley Solidarity campaign, the agricultural land is near the illegal settlement of Almog, established in the 70’s.

 

The seizure comes as no surprise, Hashidi Radir, a Jordan Valley Solidarity coordinator told Palestine Monitor.

 

Driving along Highway 90, a highway dotted with Israeli settlements and Area C agricultural lands under full israeli military control, he explained that Israel’s plans to seize the land is routine.

 

“First, they claim the land as a military zone as a protection measure since they surround existing settlements, and then they proceed to use it for agricultural purposes or build on it,” Radir said.

 

Later, he said, Israeli authorities annex the land, expanding nearby settlements, or just building new ones.

 

“This has been the plan all along,” Radir estimates. “It’s just becoming more and more obvious,” he said, looking at the shops and gas stations, which exist for the use of settlers.

 

Meanwhile, he said, “closed military zones allow the IDF to evict people out of their houses, block roads, confiscate land.”

 

One example of these military abuses of the Palestinian community is Jannat’s family. She is 48 years old, a mother of four daughters and one son, and wife to sick husband who can not work. Her house was destroyed in one of the villages in Area C about six years ago.

 

Several communities from the Jordan Valley organize and give housing to evicted families. But the conditions are barely livable.

 

Jannat’s new house has no electricity, bathroom, kitchen or privacy, whatsoever. Her children walk every day to school on a dangerous road.

 

“It’s hard [for my children] to keep up with the studies when [they] come home to this,” she explained as she poured us some tea she had to made with the neighbor's water, since the water pipes don’t reach their house.

 

Israeli human rights organisation B’tselem has reported numerous cases of agricultural damage, house demolitions, and other forms of harassment to the Palestinian communities in Area C in the Jordan Valley in past weeks. According to the organisation, these actions, led by the IDF or settlers themselves, constitute an effort to reduce Palestinian presence in Area C.

 

The Israeli seizure has been publicly criticized by the both US and the UN. Secretary General  Ban Ki-Moon, said that “settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the government of Israel supporting a two-state solution of the conflict.”

 

According to B’tselem, the annual growth rate for the Israeli settler population, excluding East Jerusalem, is more than two and a half higher than the overall population in Israel.

 

In addition to the settlements, which amount to approximately 1,365 hectares of Palestinian land, industrial and agricultural land administered by settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories cover almost the double of that amount, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.


 

 

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