A success story: against all the odds

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’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 overlooking the Palestinian village of Marj e-Ghazal in the Jordan Valley.Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke

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

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 Cdemolitions, water 

Learn more about this issues from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions  ICHAD 






A Tractor Arrested

Confiscation of a tractor is just one example of the daily grinding reality of living in susiya; a village in Area C in the south Hebron Hills.

Tractor being taken

The tractor as it was being taken away. Photo EAPPI/I. Medcalf.

by Ineke, South Hebron Hills team

On 19 November 2014, the Israeli military stopped a villager from Susiya who was ploughing. His tractor was under arrest for aiding in the installation of water tanks the previous day. Apparently one of the water tanks was carried on the trailer attached to the tractor.

Why is this a crime you may ask?

Susiya lies in Area C. This means that the village and its residents are under full Israeli administrative and military control. Residents need a building permit for any new structure – toilet, animal pen, house addition and also a water tank. If there is no permit, the it gets demolished or confiscated. Permits though are almost always refused for those living in Area C villages. Over 94% of Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C have been rejected in recent years.

Since 1985, the village of Susiya, located in the South Hebron Hills, has been destroyed or relocated at least 5 times. Their olive trees have been uprooted. They are watched and harassed by Israeli settlers and closely observed by the Israeli army.

Thus when Susiya received new water tanks donated by COMET ME, it was not surprising that the Israeli authorities became aware of it. They even knew the tractor was used in transporting the water tanks.

Now soldiers stood guard around the tractor. A lady, sowing seeds in the field came to see what was happening and was clearly upset. A tractor is vital in the ploughing season and the seeds need to be sown. Of course, the Israeli authorities know this and it is not a coincidence that they targeted the tractor. It would make life more difficult for the villagers.

Water tanks too are vital for the community. With the rainy season, it is important to collect as much water as possible in the cisterns and fill the tanks. To buy water is very costly especially for Palestinians who pay five times more than Israeli settlers.

The tractor was taken into the village where the trailer was located and attached. Then both were driven onto a truck along with one of the frames holding a water tank. Another truck came and took four water tanks and another frame.

After the initial anger and distress displayed by the villagers, there was a quiet acceptance. The residents from Susiya were powerless to stop what was happening. One lady sat on a rock and cried. I too cried, not for the tractor or tanks, but because what was happening is so mean-spirited.

Yet, I know the people of Susiya will go on. It is their only means of resistance. To refuse to leave their land, to give in and give up. They will continue to have their sheep, to live in makeshift homes which are demolished time and again. And to plough, plant and harvest. Despite the difficulties. They have a strong belief that God will not allow this injustice to continue; that one day it will be better.

I hope and pray they are right and that some day I will visit again when they have the same rights and freedoms we enjoy and the burden of the occupation is but a memory.