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16 August 2007
ISRAEL-OPT: Palestinian wells, homes destroyed in West Bank
JERUSALEM, 16 August 2007 (IRIN) - Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, in the northeastern part of the West Bank, had their worst fears confirmed over the past week when Israeli forces demolished homes and wells in small villages in the area, following through on
previously issued orders
Observers and residents are concerned that these actions, combined with previous incidents and expected future ones, are making it nearly impossible for Palestinians to remain in the area.
"The Israelis seem to want to push out the Palestinians, to make room for the settlers. I am very worried," said Fathi Khrdeirat, from Save the Jordan Valley, a local organisation.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 300 Palestinians structures have been destroyed in the Jordan Valley since 2005.
On 8 August the Israeli military destroyed two agricultural wells in Bardela and Furush Beit Dajan villages.
Zidki Maman, from the Israeli Civil Administration, said the wells were dug without Israeli issued permits and the military was simply acting in accordance with the law. However, Palestinians said the wells were old and had been in use for many years.
The Israelis seem to want to push out the Palestinians, to make room for the settlers. I am very worried.
Meanwhile, on the same day, four Palestinians, including one child, became homeless after a structure was demolished in Jiftlik village. The reason given was the lack of a difficult-to-obtain Israeli building permit.
An additional eight people from the village, including four children, lost the roof over their head when their caravan was confiscated, again, for not having the proper documents in order.
Most Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley are in Area C, which, according to the Oslo Accords from the 1990s, means they are under full Israeli control and require permits from the Civil Administration to build, dig and conduct other daily activities.
The mounting military action against the villagers has sparked concern.
"House and structure demolitions are increasing and becoming a trend in the Jordan Valley," said Haya Alayed OCHA’s Humanitarian Officer in the West Bank.
On 13 August, 40 more people lost their homes, as the Israeli army destroyed two large tent-like structures used as residences by the local Bedouins in the al-Hadidiya area.
"The army came and they destroyed my house, which is also where my married children live, and the house of my neighbour Abdullah," Abu Ahmed, a resident of Khirbet Humsa near al-Hadidiya, told IRIN.
"But we will rebuild it. We will not leave this area," he insisted, saying he felt this was the apparent policy of the Israeli army.
"People built illegally, without permits or within military zones. People went to the [Jordan Valley] and did whatever they wanted," said Maman from the Civil Administration.
"We followed through on the orders we had issued," he added.
Israeli control over Palestinian land is becoming more common and many areas are declared closed military zones, leading to the evictions of Palestinian communities from those areas.
OCHA’s Alayed said her agency was concerned about Israeli policies which allowed for the expansion of settlements - considered illegal under international law - through road networks, closure regimes, checkpoints and limiting land usage by Palestinians.
"Israeli control over Palestinian land is becoming more common and many areas are declared closed military zones, leading to the evictions of Palestinian communities from those areas," she said.
Recently, Palestinians were told they could not use a section of their land near the northern border area between the West Bank and Israel for security reasons. However, the land, residents say, is now being used by settlers and they are concerned it will never be returned to them.