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The Civil Administration confiscated a tractor and a water tank belonging to Palestinian shepherds living in the northern Jordan Valley.

This was the only readily available water source for the approximately 60 members of the Basharat and Bani-Oudeh families and their 1,500 heads of sheep and goats.

The Civil Administration is reportedly prepared to return the equipment if its owners agree to leave the area and pay transport costs.

It said the tractor was confiscated during a regular patrol because it was being used "in the commission of the offense of presence in an area declared a closed military zone."

The tractor driver, Ahmed Bani-Oudeh, said he was stopped near the Beka'ot roadblock when he was on his way to fill the tank with water.

After the equipment was confiscated last Sunday, the families have had to buy water at three times the price from nearby water tank owners.

The shepherds have been living for decades in the area of Hadidiya, east of Beka'ot, on lands owned by their home villages of Tamun and Tubas. After the 1967 War, Israel declared large areas in the northern Jordan Valley closed military zones.

Palestinians have been evacuated from these areas four times, including from privately owned lands.

At the end of 2006, the High Court of Justice rejected a request from the residents to rezone their land as residential, even though the settlement of Ro'i is located a kilometer away.

The High Court ordered the Palestinians to move to an area recommended by the Civil Administration in Area B, under Palestinian administrative control, which the residents rejected as unsuitable for farming and grazing.

In April, the Civil Administration destroyed their corrals, and they moved to an area south of Hadidiya.

In May, the residents were warned that their presence in the area would be considered illegal.