Israeli forces forced 15 Palestinian families to evacuate from their homes in the northern occupied Jordan Valley yesterday in order to make way for active military training.
Mutaz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the Jordan Valley/Tubas district, said that Israel ordered 15 families, consisting of 98 individuals, mostly women and children, to evacuate the Hamsa Al-Fawqa area, in the Jordan Valley, Maan reported.
The families are being forced to vacate their home for three days a week for the next four weeks; on Sunday from 1pm, on Monday from 4pm to Tuesday 10am, and on Wednesday from 7am to 2pm.
Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley regularly face evacuations and interruption due to Israeli military exercises on or near their land. The district of Tubas, meanwhile, is one of the occupied West Bank’s most important agricultural areas.
The majority of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control, despite being within the West Bank. Meanwhile, at least 44 per cent of the total land in the Jordan Valley has been reappropriated by Israeli forces for military purposes and training exercises.
According to the Palestinian NGO the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), more than 400,000 dunams (98,842 acres) of the 720,000 dunams (177,916 acres) that make up the total area of the Jordan Valley has been transformed into closed military and firing zones, with at least 27,000 dunams (6,672 acres) confiscated for illegal Israeli settlement building.
The Israeli rights group B’Tselem has emphasised the detrimental effects such training has on communities that are dependent on farming and shepherding. “B’Tselem’s research has found that over the course of the military maneuver, ten sheep and goats died in the evacuated communities. In addition, ammunition remnants from the military training caused fires.”
Israeli military training exercises in the Jordan Valley have increased dramatically since 2012 and are one of many tools used to forcibly displace rural Palestinian communities, NGO Jordan Valley Solidarity says, part of a historic process of creeping annexation of the valley by Israel’s military.
Forming a third of the occupied West Bank and with 88 per cent of its land classified as “Area C” according to the Oslo Accords, the Jordan Valley has long been a strategic area of land unlikely to return to Palestinians following Israel’s occupation in 1967.