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Livelihoods at risk by Israelís demolition of structures in Al Jiftlik

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By Calum Toogood - December 11, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [In Pictures] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Jordan Valley] [House Demolition] [settlement construction]

Photography by Gabriel R.

 

On the morning of Tuesday, 10 December, Israeli forces entered the Palestinian town of Al-Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley and demolished a family house and two agricultural structures.  

The bulldozer, accompanied by Israeli military jeeps and a military ambulance arrived at the village at around 6:30 in the morning before commencing the demolition.

The home that was demolished had initially been built around seven years ago.  The Israelis had issued a demolition order on the structure saying it was illegally built in a closed military zone.

Immediately after the Israeli army razed the structures, villagers, accompanied by staff from local NGOs and international activists, began to rebuild.

The rebuilding began with the agricultural structures that housed much of the village’s livestock, the primary source of income for the community and for the family who lost their home.

After the completion of the livestock shelters, the villagers say they will begin to rebuild the family’s home.

“They are rebuilding their animal structure before they rebuild their own house because this is their life,” Fathy Khdirat of Jordan Valley Solidarity explained.  

“They earn their income from the cattle.  If they lose their cattle they will lose their future.”

According to Khdirat, this is the third time this particular house has been demolished in the past month.  And it is not the only home that has been destroyed; Israeli forces razed an adjacent house earlier this month.

According to villagers, there was a court injunction issued against the demolition of this particular house.  It is unsure however if this injunction still stood at the time the demolition took place.

There are 18 people in these two families who have been affected.  They will remain homeless, within the care of others in the village, until their houses are rebuilt.  However there is no certainty that such structures will not be demolished again.

“How can we talk about a viable Palestinian state if the Palestinians are not protected in their state?  If they can’t imagine that they can build a house and it will be safe from the Israeli bulldozer,” Khdirat went on to explain.

The same morning, Israeli forces also demolished two steel agricultural structures in the Palestinian village of Fasayil, to the South of Al-Jiftlik.

This incident similarly comes merely days after another series of demolitions within the immediate area in the Jordan Valley.  Last week there were demolitions in the nearby village of Al Auja, where four family homes were destroyed along with several other structures.

Since the beginning of the year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), over 558 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been destroyed by Israeli Forces.

Al-Jiftlik is one of the largest and oldest Palestinian villages in the Jordan valley. It is located in what is known as Area C of the West Bank, the 60% of the West Bank which falls under full Israeli military and civil control.  

Al-Jiftlik’s land encompasses around 185,000 dunams, all of which is under full Israeli administrative control.  Palestinian building and land management is illegal within this territory unless authorized by the Israeli civil administration; however, building permits are rarely, if ever, granted to Palestinians. 

However, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, seven Israeli settlements have been constructed, resulting in the loss of approximately 7,000 dunams of land belonging to residents of Al Jiftlik. Additional land has been confiscated due to the creation of many Israeli military bases situated throughout the area.

Around 90% of the Jordan Valley is currently under full Israeli administrative control.  Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, the Palestinian population has dwindled from nearly 320,000 to about 60,000, around 70% of of which resides in the city of Jericho.

According to a report by UNOCHA, building permits within Area C are very rarely issued by the civil administration.  Between January 2000 and September 2007, 94% of of building permit applications made by Palestinians were refused.

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