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Existence is Resistance

Farmers in their fields in The Jordan Valley

On Wednesday the MPT team joined Rabbis For Human Rights for a trip to the Jordan Valley to visit a Bedouin village.  The Jordan Valley is an area that lies to the East along the boarder between Palestine and Jordan.  The Jordan Valley covers 1.6 million dunams or about 30% of the West Bank.  MPT visited an area in the North where the the climate, fertile soil, and access to water lend itself to being a key year-round agricultural area. Since 1967 Israel has been systematically closing off this area to it's inhabitants through limiting water supplies, destroying Bedouin communities, building illegal settlements, and  claiming it as a closed military firing zone or training ground. Farming in the Jordan Valley can be dated back over 10,000 years, however, through the recent Israeli exploitation and annexation of it's land and resources, this bountiful area's inhabitants are currently under the threat to their way of life coming to and end.

Outside of the few towns and cities in the Jordan Valley, the inhabitants of a vast majority of this region are the Bedouins.  Living in small nomadic communities, these farmers and herders have been living off the land for centuries.  Prior to 1950 there were upwards of 90,000 Bedouins in the region. Now the number has shrunk to an estimated 11,000 living under constant violence and extreme oppression.  The words in the Bedouin motto, "To exist is to resist" encompasses their struggle.

The community MPT visited is comprised of about ten large tent structures, a few cattle sheds and a few pens for livestock. This was all built beside an old building said to be a small stone hotel left over from when Palestine was under Turkish rule. The Bedouins here live in what Israel now considers a closed training ground for the Israeli Army.  The farmers take their herds to graze on hillsides dotted with newly constructed military towers and valleys filled with gated barbed wire enclosures holding armored vehicles and tanks. The roadsides are filled with cement barriers reading "DANGER" and "firing zone" and the movement of the people is now very restricted.

Along with movement restrictions are water restrictions.  In an effort to force the Bedouins from their lands, the Israeli Government has built large pipelines diverting the water supplies to the guard stations and new illegal Israeli settlements.  The Palestinians in this region many times can hear their water flowing through these lines, however they are not allowed to access it.

The Israeli Information Center For Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B'Tselem reported: "Israel's control of most of the land in the area prevents Palestinian from moving water from areas rich in water to distant Palestinian communities, and to Palestinian communities outside the Jordan Valley. As a result, water consumption in some Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley is less than 40 percent of the WHO’s minimal recommended consumption of 100 liters a day. Consumption in small Bedouin communities, which are not connected to a water system, is just 20 liters, a quantity that the WHO classifies as the amount necessary for “short-term survival” in humanitarian disaster areas such as refugee camps in Darfur, or in Haiti following the earthquake there."  

Meanwhile, the Water diverted to the illegal Israeli settlements in this area is enough for ample household use and even irrigation of huge expanses of land.

What the MPT witnessed was best described as a close-knit community of families, welcoming to strangers from all over the world. Proud, friendly, hard working, and loving. Living under the constant threat of having their homes demolished and their lands ripped from them. "Existence is resistance." Long live the Bedouins of Palestine.
Woman making bread over an open fire inside of a Bedouin tent.
Sheep grazing in small Bedouin community

-MPT Winter Team 2013

1 comment:

MaryHanna/MPT said...

I am so proud of you guys. You're doing an amazing job, with great updates & reports. Please know how much we all appreciate you and what you're doing. - MLH