Haaretz Editorial || Cleansing the Jordan Valley
Israel is causing grave injustice to dozens of old, poverty-stricken communities that make a living from herding and farming.
The campaign of destruction in the northern Jordan Valley continued for a week. As reported by Amira Hass (on February 1) it started in January 17 at 6:30 in the morning, when bulldozers and Jeeps with soldiers and representatives of the IDF’s Civil Administration in the West Bank removed 60 Palestinians, including 36 children, and destroyed 46 tents and improvised structures. Thirty-two emergency tents from the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations given to the residents after the destruction were confiscated two days later. The soldiers checked every vehicle at the site to make sure none were carrying humanitarian goods, and the water in the tanks was poured out.
The declared reason for the destruction is usually “military exercises.” In 2012, eight times the IDF ordered the 17 communities of shepherds and farmers to temporarily leave their tents for that reason. But despite the fact that firing ranges already make up 45.7 percent of the area of the Jordan Valley, this is not enough for Israel: 20 percent of the area was declared a nature reserve; hundreds of thousands of mines were laid in the area; 2,500 dunams (about 625 acres) that were farmed by Palestinians were confiscated for the separation barrier. In total, out of an area of 1.6 million dunams in the Jordan Valley, Israel has seized 1.25 million − some 77.5 percent − where Palestinians are forbidden to enter.
All this comes at the same time that Israeli settlements in the very same region live in peace and quiet, and are not required to evacuate. The IDF and Civil Administration’s brutal activities, which in addition to the destruction of the camps also includes cruelty in everything connected with access to water, is part of the consistent implementation of a nationalist policy based on the desire to uproot entire Palestinian populations from Area C and transfer them to Area A. In its desire to cleanse strategic centers of the West Bank (South Hebron Hills, the Khan al-Ahmar area and northern Jordan Valley) of Palestinian residents, Israel is causing grave injustice to dozens of old, poverty-stricken communities that make a living from herding and farming. Except for the fact that this is a cruel and inhuman policy that stands in opposition to every democratic and civilized principle, this behavior proves that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to renew peace negotiations is nothing but a ploy.