Israel Evicts 14 Jordan Valley Families for Military Drills

TUBAS, August 30, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli army Sunday evicted 14 families living in Ar-Ras al-Ahmar, a small locale in northern Jordan Valley, out of their homes for six hours as of 6:00 AM, in order to conduct military trainings in the area, according to a local source.

Aref Daraghmeh, head of al-Maleh local council, said an Israeli army force broke into the village in the morning hours and forced 14 families out of their homes in preparation to hold military drills in the area.

The families were informed that they would be evicted for four other separate days; for six hours per day.

Almost on a weekly basis, Israeli army orders Palestinian Bedouins, residing in the Jordan Valley, to leave their homes to make way for live-fire trainings.

Under the Oslo accords, 90% of the valley was labeled Area C, where Israel retains full civil and military control, enabling it to restrict Palestinian movement, construction and development projects.

Many Palestinians in the Jordan Valley see military exercises in firing zones as well as repeated house demolitions as an Israeli strategy to empty the land of Palestinians and confiscate it for further settlement expansion and agricultural production.

In May 2014, a senior Israeli army officer reported that military training in live-fire zones in the West Bank “is used as a way of reducing the number of Palestinians living nearby, and serves as an important part of the campaign against Palestinian illegal construction.”

Col. Einav Shalev also described the Israeli army policy of confiscating humanitarian equipment destined for Palestinians whose homes have been destroyed as ‘a punch in the right places’.

According to a B’Tselem report issued late June 2015, “This past month, June 2015, the Israeli military temporarily displaced hundreds of Palestinians from communities in the Jordan Valley, forcing them to leave their homes for varying periods of time over seven days in which maneuvers were held in the area.”

“Since the beginning of the year, Palestinians in the Jordan Valley have been temporarily displaced over 20 days of military training,” reported the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

On 10 and 16 June, ten families from the community of Khirbet Humsah were made to leave their homes for seven hours as of 7:00 A.M. The families, numbering 69 people, 43 of them minors, went to areas several kilometers from their homes, sometimes using carts dragged by tractors and sometimes on foot, reported the center.

On 10 June, when the residents returned to their homes, they found that grazing areas and cultivated farmland had gone up in flames, presumably as the result of firing by the military. In addition, water tanks used to water the flocks were pierced by bullets, B’Tselem noted.

“These military maneuvers cause unreasonable disruption to the lives of the communities in the area. The residents are required to leave their homes for many hours, sometimes on short notice of just a few hours. In some cases, they do not have any proper alternative location, and are left exposed to the harsh weather conditions that prevail in the Jordan Valley in the summer.”

The Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley rely almost exclusively for their livelihood on grazing flocks and growing crops on land next to their homes. Extensive damage to farmland and grazing areas due to gunfire, fires, and the passage of tanks and military vehicles through the fields jeopardizes the communities’ very ability to survive in the area, said the center.

Accordingly to international humanitarian law, an occupying state is permitted to act in the occupied territory on the basis of just two considerations: The good of the local population and immediate military needs relating to the military’s operations in the occupied territory.

As an occupying power, Israel is not entitled to use the land for general military needs, such as training for war or general military exercises. It is certainly not permitted to damage the livelihood of protected residents on this pretext and to act to expel them from their homes, said the center.

“Israel must halt immediately all temporary displacements of communities for the purpose of military training, and all the other,” the center concluded.