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Israel notifies residents of impending demolitions in northern Jordan Valley

March 1, 2017 12:55 P.M. (Updated: March 1, 2017 9:41 P.M.)
Bedouin shepherds walk past tents setup in the Jordan Valley near West Bank city of Jericho. (photo credit:AFP PHOTO)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Three families in the village of Khirbet al-Dir in the northern Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank were notified on Tuesday that Israeli authorities planned to demolish nine structures in the area, including makeshift residential shacks made of plastic sheets and metal.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that head of the Kardala village council, Ghassan Faqha, said that Israeli forces delivered demolition notices to six structures for lacking nearly impossible to obtain Israeli-issued building permits. However, their reports said three more structures in the village were also facing imminent demolition.

Faqha also noted that at least 27 demolition orders had been distributed to Palestinians in the Jordan Valley over the past five months.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, confirmed to Ma'an that six stop construction warrants were delivered to "owners of illegal structures that were established without the necessary permits from the proper authorities" in the northern Jordan Valley. 

The demolition orders were the latest amid a spate of incidents targeting Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley, including settler attacks and a multiple home demolitions since the beginning of the year.

Last week, Israeli settlers raided a Bedouin community in the Khallat Hamad area of the northern Jordan Valley and threatened local Palestinians, a day after a herd of sheep belonging to one of the community's residents was attacked.

Local activist Muataz Bisharat, who monitors settlement-related activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma'an at the time that a group of 12 settlers came to the community's tents and demanded that residents leave the area.

On the following day, Israeli forces destroyed a UNICEF-funded water pipeline running between the Bedouin communities of al-Hadidiya and al-Ras al-Ahmar in the northern Jordan Valley.

Israeli daily Haaretz also reported last month that Palestinian shepherds in the northern Jordan Valley were attacked by a group of Israeli settlers and armed Israeli soldiers, which came about a month after settlers began erecting an illegal outpost in the area on private Palestinian land.

Over the course of 2016, settlers have made multiple attempts to seize lands in the area and acquire building permits. The newly erected outpost is inhabited by armed teenage boys who have been threatening the Palestinian shepherds and preventing them from taking their flocks to pasture, Haaretz reported.

Israeli settlers have been given a green light by the Israeli parliament to build illegal Israeli outposts on Palestinian territory following the passage of the outpost Regularization law last month, which states that any settlements built in the West Bank “in good faith” -- without knowledge that the land upon which it was built was privately owned by Palestinians -- could be officially recognized by Israel pending minimal proof of governmental support in its establishment and some form of compensation to the Palestinian landowners.

The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C -- under full Israeli military control.

Demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in Area C, with the Jordan Valley’s Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to such policies.

Israel almost never gives Palestinians permission to build in land classified as Area C, leaving residents no choice but to build their homes without permits.

Meanwhile, Israel demolished a record 1,093 structures in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2016, displacing 1,601 Palestinians, which the UN said were the highest demolition and displacement figures on record.

Since the start of 2017, Israeli forces have already demolished 168 Palestinian structures in the occupied territory, displacing at least 276 Palestinians, according to UN documentation, while Israel has also targeted Palestinians communities inside Israel with demolitions, which rights groups argued were part of the same Israeli policy of forcible displacement also carried out against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
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