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Israel dismantles irrigation pipes in Jordan Valley

Move could devastate farm land used to feed the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank

Image Credit: AP
Palestinian farmers cut onions at a just outside the West Bank Jordan valley .
Gulf News

Ramallah: Israeli occupation forces have dismantled all the water pipelines Palestinian farmers use to irrigate their land in the northern areas of the Jordan Valley, leaving tens of dunums of land without a water supply.

Moataz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who oversees colonial activities in the governorate of Tubas and Northern Jordan Valley areas, has warned that the farmers, mainly in the village of Bardala, will suffer major losses as the land dries out.

He said they may be forced to abandon their previously fertile land, which would hit the entire agricultural economy in the West Bank, which depends on the Jordan Valley and is known in the Palestinian territories as the food basket of the Occupied West Bank.

Occupation forces dismantled the pipelines, connected to underground wells, on the pretext that they had not been licensed. The Jordan Valley areas are all located in Area C, which is under sole Israeli administrative and security control. They strictly prevent Palestinians from carrying out infrastructural projects.

Israel has demanded full sovereignty over Jordan Valley areas under any future political settlement.

The Palestinian government considers the Jordan Valley a central component of a future Palestinian state and rejects Israel’s demand.

Observers believe that Israel wants to use this region as a security zone. They say disagreement over control of the Jordan Valley was one of the key causes of the breakdown of the 2014 peace negotiations brokered by the US Administration.

Bisharat said the Jordan Valley region has been targeted daily by Israeli occupation forces.

Palestinian families are routinely kicked out of their homes on the pretext of nearby Israeli military exercises, but Palestinians say they just want to make life unbearable for them until they voluntarily leave their land.

They are also regularly attacked by Israelis living in nearby colonies.

Palestinians warn that if Israel continues confiscating areas of the Jordan Valley, which makes up more than 60 per cent of the Occupied West Bank, the Palestinian economy could collapse.