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Jordan Valley farmers struggling to survive

Jerusalem24 – Families in the Jordan Valley depend on farming and selling crops as a main source of income, however, increased spike in settler attacks and the Israeli army practices have been making life unbearable for these isolated communities.

Under the watch of Israeli forces, settlers vandalize properties and vegetable stalls, level land, uproot saplings, destroy greenhouses, and physically assault citizens which results in severe material losses, according to documentation by Palestinian activists.

“Settlements councils in the Jordan Valley, especially the Machola council, lead the attacks against citizens and farmers,” Rashid Khudiri, an activist with the grassroots network of organizations Jordan Valley Solidarity, tells Jerusalem24. “Settlers come with Israeli forces, overlook the lands to prevent any farmer working in his land from doing so.”

Farmers without tractors

About 50 tractors have been confiscated since the beginning of the year, according to documentation collected by activists in the Jordan Valley.

“It’s not only about the number, this equipment is like the farmers’ right hands,” Khudiri stresses, “without them, they can’t do anything.”

Farmers have been resorting to work on their lands during the night, to avoid confiscation of their equipment, which Khudiri says is “a risk farmers take every day.”

A farmer from Bardala, who works with different other farmers in different communities in the Jordan valley, lost nine tractors confiscated by the Israeli forces, according to Khudiri.

“Another farmer got his three tractors confiscated on the same day while working on his land.”

The tractors and equipment confiscated are usually withheld by the Israeli authorities for a period that ranges between one to five months.

“Farmers are also fined for their machines between 3000-7000 shekels for each, which results in them either getting help from other farmers or having to rent tractors which is very very expensive.”

“Military drills leftovers threat to locals’ lives”

Israeli forces notified seven families in the community of Khirbet Humsa Al-Fuqqa in the northern Jordan Valley, on Wednesday, of expulsion from their tents, with the aim of conducting military drills in the area.

Moataz Bisharat, the official in charge of the Jordan Valley file in Tubas governorate, said many families in the Jordan Valley are expelled from their homes several times a year, under the pretext of military training.

“These exercises pose a threat to the lives of citizens, due to the remnants of ammunition left by the soldiers, and large areas of rain-fed crops for citizens are exposed to damage during the drills,” Bisharat told Wafa.

Khudairi adds that, “425 square kilometers in the immediate region, around 80% of the area is a closed military firing zone.” He explains, “this means that they put our villages, our land, our water resources under the Israeli military law, without giving citizens the chance to enter their lands, and then they start to confiscate anything in these areas.”

Khudiri stresses that activists and citizens from the Jordan Valley work together to protect the families, communities, and farmers from the Israeli settlers and forces, but solidarity alone won’t be enough to shield the residents of the valley from harm.

Listen to the full interview on Wake Up Palestine

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 6 years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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