Thursday, May 13, 2010

Israel’s Tightening

Grip On The Jordan Valley

May 12, 2010

"Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, March 2010.

The Jordan Valley is an area under urgent threat of annexation. During the last few weeks Israel has considerably tightened its grip on its local Palestinian population. On the 11th of April the Israeli Army shut off the main water source to the village of Bardala (Palestinian village in the Tubas Governorate), jeopardising its viability as a farming community. On the 12th of April they declared the area of Al Maleh a closed military zone, preventing shepherds from grazing their animals. Three days later, on the 15th of April, Israeli soldiers raided the community of Al Farisiya and stole four water pumps in a further attempt to control all water resources in the area.

Al Maleh settler tent
Courtesy:The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group

On the 25th of April the harassment of Palestinians increased significantly as armed settlers from the strongly Zionist Maskiot settlement erected a tent only ten meters from the Al Maleh Bedouin community. The Maskiot settlers, who have resettled in the Valley after being evacuated from the settlement of Gush Katif during the Israeli "withdrawal" from Gaza in 2005, are ideological settlers aiming to expand the Jewish presence in the area.

Armed settlers from Maskiot settlement
Courtesy:The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group

An estimated number of 20-30 settlers arrived in Al Maleh at 4.00 pm on Sunday afternoon and the erection of their outpost was facilitated by the Israeli army and settler security. The settlers then proceeded to intimidate the community, which has been living in the area for 25 years, by circling around carrying guns and taking photographs and video of the inhabitants.

During the first night the Maskiot tent brought in a generator and played loud music until 4 am - around the time when the people of Al Maleh normally rise in order to herd their sheep. By Monday evening the settler tent had already expanded to three times its original size, and lines which could not be crossed by Palestinians had been established. People from Maskiot were doing shifts in the tent, with around 10-20 settlers present at any one time. In a show of collective defiance, Palestinians from nearby areas came to show their support with Al Maleh and on Tuesday evening a Palestinian party with singing and dancing managed to drown out the settlers’ amplified music.

Israeli Army against local villagers
Courtesy:The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group

Palestinians sit in in front of the settler tent
Courtesy:The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group

The settler tent and the local Bedouin tent
Courtesy:The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group

Throughout the next few days army and police presence at the tent increased, with soldier frequently seen laughing with settlers and enforcing the illegal "border line" drawn by them. When Palestinians attempted to cross this border and reclaim their land they were met by force from both settlers and the army. Early in the morning on Thursday 29th of April, the area was declared a closed military zone and, in a move that essentially rewarded the settlers for their illegal actions, an army official instructed that both sets tents, from Al Maleh and the settler outpost, should be dismantled, which they were.

Israeli Army removing Palestinian tent
Courtesy:The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group

Although the immediate physical threat of the settler outpost has now decreased, the repression in the Valley continues. In the early hours of Friday the 30th, just one day after the Al Maleh eviction, a large amount of Israeli soldiers raided a house in Al Jiftlik, arresting several residents. Army, police and border police were present as they then proceeded to dig up the family’s front yard for "security reasons". Nothing was found on the scene. Cameras used by activists to film the event were confiscated by the police, after the army made it clear that there were people involved in this operation who should not be seen on film. The Israeli army is still refusing to release information about the location of Palestinians arrested on the day.

The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group is a network aiming at fostering links between community organisations in Tubas, occupied Palestine, and Brighton. Find more:

For an article on the general situation in the Jordan Valley, including the establishment of Maskiot, see

For a report from inside Maskiot, see:

For an article about the backers of Maskiot see http://corporateoccupation.wordpres...

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