by the Jordan Valley team
Nai’me shows us the water pool her family has built with the aid from a local organisation. She explains to us how this pool has enabled her family to harvest rainwater and use it to irrigate their farms. She smiles shyly and adds:
“Our produce has increased so much that we now can afford to send our eldest daughter to university in Jericho” Nai’me 2015
Nai’mes agricultural water pool, Jordan Valley Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke
Nai’me and her family live in a small village north of Jericho, situated in Area C. In Area C, Israeli authorities control everything pertaining to building and development. If you want to build a house, drill a well or pave a road, you need a permit; something that Nai’me and her family do not have. In fact, they did not even try to ask for one, since Israeli authorities are not in the habit of granting permits to Palestinians. Nai’me and her family decided to build anyway as a way of resisting the occupation.
Between 2000 and 2007, 94% of all Palestinian applications for building permits were denied, according to UN OCHA.
EAs Peter and Pia visit Palestinian villages in Area C Jordan Valley Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke
In the Jordan Valley Israel’s military occupation is characterised by bureaucratic and physical restrictions for Palestinians. Nai’me and her family are not the only ones whose buildings are deemed illegal. While she and her family lack permission from the Israeli authorities, the Israeli settlements are expanding, in violation of International Humanitarian Law.
Settlements are heavily subsidised by the Israeli authorities and land is allocated to them through a complex and overlapping system of zoning.
Argaman settlement, established in 1968 in the Jordan Valley. Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke
The zoning of the occupied West Bank into Areas A, B and C determine which authority, Palestinian or Israeli, is responsible for the inhabitants. Area C is divided into several sub-categories which have severely hindered the natural growth and development of Palestinian towns and cities. In the Jordan Valley for example the Israeli authorities have re-zoned most of the land as either state land, closed firing zones or nature reserve.
Significantly, while only 6% of the Jordan Valley is available for Palestinian development a total of 86 % falls under the jurisdiction of the municipal and regional councils of the settlements. This facilitates the development of settlements well beyond the 12 % of land they cultivate today.
A success story: against all odds? Nai’me knows they run the risk of having their water pool demolished by Israeli authorities. If this happens, her husband might have to go back to working in the settlement farm bordering their village. But Nai’me hopes that they will get to keep their water pool for a couple of years and that her eldest daughter will have time to finish her degree.
Read more eye witness accounts from the Jordan Valley; Area C, demolitions, water
Learn more about this issues from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions ICHAD