In October I will also be trying to foster grassroots links with grassroots organisations in the Jordan valley region, the most fertile area of the West Bank in danger of annexation by the Israeli state suffering from exploitation by Israeli and international corporations...
Al Jifflik is in the Israeli controlled area of the valley although it is part of occupied Palestine. The residents leased land from the Jordanian state before 1967 but have no ownership. Since 1967 98% of the valley has come under Israeli settler or army control. Palestinan residents in the Israeli controlled area have not been able to obtain permits to build new structures since 1967. The majority of residents of Al Jifflik live in tents. Any new structures are bulldozed by the Israeli army.
We met a member of the village commitee for Al Jifflik. Like many other residents he is forced to work for Carmel-Agrexco on a nearby Illegal Israeli colony. Carmel-Agrexco are 50% owned by the Israeli state and are the largest exporter of fresh produce from the West Bank colonies to Europe. 60% of their produce is sold in the UK. Many Palestinians work for Carmel-Agrexco in the valley for as little as 35 Shekels per day with no sick pay or employment contracts. The man we spoke to was paid slightly more as a supervisor.
We were told that 25 homes in Al Jifflik were scheduled for demolition by the Israeli army. The owners of the homes had been given notice of the demolition in the last two months and had been called to appear before a military tribunal at the nearby settlement to appeal against the decision.
The representative of the village commitee was pessimistic about the prospect of fighting the demolitions saying ‘the army do what they want’, but he was grateful for any outside interest in the village.
The destruction of the few remaining stone structures in a village where most people live in tents can only be motivated by a desire to ethnically cleanse the area. The Israeli restrictions are, on the one hand, making life impossibe in the valley and, on the other, revoking the permits of Jordan Valley residents who leave the valley for any substantial period of time or who do not have a permanent abode in the valley. This new wave of house demolitions in Al Jifflik is a part of that process.