Using military force, the Israeli government is slowly expelling Palestinians from the Jordan Valley, one of the Middle East’s most fertile areas. The Palestinians affected are among the poorest in the West Bank, due to deficient infrastructure. The result is “an artificial humanitarian crisis,” according to Ramesh Rajasingham of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Israel has created distinct zones that prevent Palestinians from moving freely throughout the area. The zoning leaves only six percent of the land for Palestinians while ninety-four percent is allocated to Israeli settlements (which are illegal according to the UN), military zones, and nature reserves. The military zones are called “firing zones.” The Israeli military performs exercises in the firing zones, demanding that Palestinians move out or face military eviction, which can include demolition of their homes. There have been 200 such demolitions since 2011. The Israeli government has also shut off access to clean water and electricity.
By contrast Israelis who live in the area receive financial assistance to encourage settlement expansion, and they benefit from modern infrastructure unavailable to Palestinians living in the same area. The residents of ten Israeli settlements in the firing zones rarely, if ever, face the possibility of having their homes demolished.
Palestinians view Israelis as thieves for confiscating their land and using it to further Israel’s expansion and increased agricultural production. There is an obvious double standard, benefiting Israel by using brute force and fear to evict neighboring Palestinian residents of the Valley.
Corporate media coverage, such as a July 2011 Washington Post article, tends to downplay the benefits (including tax breaks, social services and financial assistance) that Israelis receive as incentives to settle in the Jordan Valley, but which are not available to Palestinians living there. The Post story also omits the fact that the ten Israelis settlements were under no threat of demolition.
Emad Drimly, “Jordan Valley families expelled from Israeli ‘firing zone’ during Gaza attack remain uprooted,” The Electronic Intifada, January 2, 2013. http://electronicintifada.net/content/jordan-valley-families-expelled-israeli-firing-zone-during-gaza-attack-remain-uprooted/12046
Willow Heske, “Palestinian communities under threat in the Jordan Valley as settlement expansion and demolitions escalate,” Oxfam International, July 5, 2012. http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2012-07-05/palestinian-communities-threat-jordan-valley-settlement-expansion-demolitions
Joel Greenberg, “Razings Leave Mark in Jordan Valley,” The Washington Post, July 6, 2011: A5.
Student researcher: John Paul Koster (College of Marin)
Faculty evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (College of Marin)