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Jordan Valley, Occupied Palestinian Territories – on this day November 3 2016

by on November 3, 2019

On November 3, 2016, al-Hammeh was rebuilt.  In the northern end of the Jordan Valley, Abu Rasmi Ayyub, a shepherd whose family has been on the land since at least the mid-nineteenth century, lives with three generations of his extended family in a tiny hamlet – “actually only a confabulation of tents and sheep pens,” writes professor David Shulman – called al-Hammeh. Now the Ayyubs’ historic grazing grounds, next door to al-Hammeh, are rapidly becoming inaccessible to them because of the expansion of the Israeli settlement of Givat Sal’it.  al-Hammeh is just a few miles from the Israeli border crossing to the city of Beit Shean.

al-Hammeh, in September 2016, consisted of a few tents and no amenities like running water.  On November 3, 2016, al-Hammeh was rebuilt.

On September 27, David Shulman writes,  the Civil Administration, a unit of the army that is the Israeli occupation authority (Civil Administration is part of COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, which is a unit in the Defense Ministry.) destroyed al-Hammeh.

After all, al-Hammeh is a shepherding hamlet, and the beginning of autumn is when the lambs are born.  It’s always good to destroy an enemies livelihood – any occupying force can tell you that.  al-Hammeh, being in Area C as designated in the Oslo Accords, is “under direct and exclusive Israeli military, legal, and political control.”  Shulman adds that large parts of Area C “are taken up by Israeli settlements or by lands that have been reserved for future Israeli settlement.”  The Jordan valley, mainly under Area C, is also home to a Palestinian population of some 15,000 Bedouins who are settled in the valley and therefore tacitly targeted for expulsion.

On November 3 al-Hammeh was rebuilt.  “Four days later the army returned to demolish everything once again, and this time they also confiscated the tents and anything of use or value that remained,” writes Shulman.   At the same time, the Israeli neighbors in Givat Sal’it established a new outpost—illegal even under Israeli law—carefully situated to block the Bedouins’ only viable route to their grazing grounds, he added.

Shulman’s personal observations are disheartening to any person not invested in creating injustice:

Volunteers from Ta’ayush, Arab-Jewish Partnership—the activist peace group I’ve been part of it for the last sixteen years—saw the outpost at its bare beginnings, just bits and pieces of a wooden frame and a small shack for a single family. We alerted the police and the Civil Administration, who sent officers to see what was happening. These officers arrived, took pictures with their iPads, and were even prepared to acknowledge that the outpost was illegal. Meanwhile, Givat Sal’it II continued to grow. Within less than a month, it had four permanent buildings, several residents, and a link to the Israeli water system and to the electric power grid, all this with the silent collusion of the authorities. Soon it will also have soldiers guarding it.

His description, as he says, is how the occupation works throughout the West Bank.  “On November 17, the Ayyub Bedouins, their homes and sheep pens now destroyed for the second time, decided to set up a protest tent not far from the new outpost. The fate of a Palestinian tent, old or new, is unlike the fate of an illegal Israeli outpost. Within a few hours soldiers arrived and quickly went through their standard repertoire—tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and pepper spray .”

As we should all know ,

Israeli security forces regularly allow settlers to assault Palestinians and damage their property. In fact, soldiers sometimes safeguard the settlers in such situations, providing them support and at times even taking part in the assault. All this is compounded by an ineffectual law enforcement system that takes no action against the offenders and does not achieve justice for the victims. According to figures collected by Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, some 85 percent of all investigations into incidents of harm caused to Palestinians (physical assault, arson, damage to property, vandalizing trees, and taking over land) are closed due to flaws in police procedure. There is only a 1.9 percent chance of a police complaint filed by a Palestinian leading to the conviction of an Israeli citizen.

Shulman adds several more thoughts.  But as he says, perhaps is most devastating observation is “in the long run, is the denial of water. It is very hot in the Jordan Valley for much of the year. In summer, daytime temperatures rise well above 100 degrees. If Palestinians living in tiny hamlets like al-Hammeh have the temerity to attempt to link themselves to the Palestinian Authority’s pipelines running down from the city of Tubbas in Area A, the army comes and breaks the pipes.”

Shulman says he’s seen this happen at al-Hadidiya in late summer.  “Life in the valley is insupportable without water, and Palestinians have to buy and import water in tankers at vastly inflated prices. Remember that these are subsistence shepherds for whom the cost of a single water tanker is a huge sum—easily half the monthly expenses of a family in the summer. Simply stated, the idea is to dry the Bedouins out until thirst forces them to disappear, perhaps by migration to somewhere in Area A or even outside Israel-Palestine.”

On November 3, 2016, al-Hammeh was rebuilt.  How many times will al-Hammeh need to be rebuilt?

What can we do?  You could encourage your legislator to support a bill like H. Res 221: Reaffirming the importance of upholding democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in United States foreign policy.  Or H.Res. 527: Recognizing the goal of United States foreign policy should be to promote human rights and equal rights for all.  Or even better yet H.R. 2407: Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act

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