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Israel blocks aid entering Jordan Valley

The delivery of shelter material to the Jordan Valley has been halted as Israel blocks and confiscates the goods sent, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told MEMO.


The organisation said it will continue to distribute other aid items. This partial suspension comes as a response to Israeli imposed difficulties the ICRC has faced when trying to deliver aid in the area.

Their spokesperson in Israel and the Occupied Territories, Jon Martin Larsen said: "We have seen a pattern of obstructions and confiscations since the beginning of last year. Until we see that shelter material is not being confiscated we will continue to halt the provision of shelter material in the Jordan Valley."

"The ICRC will continue to distribute other aid to the Jordan Valley and will continue to distribute aid, including shelter material, to other areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem," he told MEMO.

"Under international humanitarian law, the Israeli authorities should allow the rapid and unimpeded passage of such assistance and we hope to resume the shelter assistance as soon as possible after dialogue with the Israeli authorities."

According to the spokesperson, since 2013 the ICRC has responded to 16 cases of house destructions in the Jordan Valley affecting more than 70 households. Of these, the ICRC experienced the confiscation of tents, destruction of tents or prevention of distribution in six of the instances, affecting 34 households, or some 200 people.

In September, the village of Khirbet Al-Makhul in the Jordan Valley hit the headlines when a French diplomat was assaulted by an IDF soldier. Marion Castaing was part of an EU diplomatic convoy accompanying the delivery of aid to 120 Bedouins whose homes had been demolished.

The ICRC's attempts to deliver aid to the community were thwarted twice in two consecutive days, on the first attempt an ICRC aid truck was stopped and turned back before reaching the Bedouin community and the shelters ICRC staff managed to erect on the second attempt were forcibly removed.

The situation in the Jordan Valley is forcing the ICRC to contend with its somewhat dual mandate. As a humanitarian aid organisation the ICRC must remain neutral providers of aid but the current situation requires them to do so against the backdrop of blatant violations of international humanitarian law, something they are widely seen as 'guardians' of.

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