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Jordan Valley: Serious Water Crisis

As part of the Bil’in Conference international groups visited various Palestinian areas, including the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley is mainly Area C – Oslo Accords, which means total Israeli military control. (All of Palestine is under Israeli military control, but Area C more so.) It is, therefore, much easier for Israeli settlement s or military to confiscate land and control the limited water supply in this semi-desert area.

It is easy to locate the land controlled by the illegal Israeli settlements because their fields are greener with larger plants. The water for the Jordan Valley comes from the eastern aquifer. Palestinians are only allowed to dig their wells to a certain depth, while settlements continue to dig deeper and deeper which will eventually dry up the aquifer. Most Palestinians in the area have to buy water in portable tanks even though they have wells.

Some of the largest Israeli-owned fruit and vegetable plantations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel are in the Jordan Valley and owned by Carmel Agrexco. Most of these products are sent to Europe by the Carmel Agrexco, a company targeted by the boycott campaign. The confiscation of land and reduction of water for farming has forced many Palestinian farmers away from their land into jobs on settlement plantations. Working conditions on plantations are harsh. The hours are long and the pay is low.

Some Jordan Valley Palestinian villages were denied electricity and access to running water until two years ago. (Bedouin people in the area still have neither electricity nor running water.) Villagers get water irregularly, so are forced to buy water in tanks. Where homes have been demolished, villagers are building with adobe which is labor intensive, needs ample water and skilled builders.

Growing date palms can be a very profitable enterprise, but means careful planning, skill and sufficient water. MPT visited a Palestinian date palm farmer. He has been fairly successful, even though he works as a sharecropper. His home was demolished by the Israeli army at least once. His grove had sufficient water, but an expensive water pump was stolen by the Israeli army which he will have to replace.

What is the future of this little girl in a land without water and freedom?

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