Israeli troops destroy water pipelines in the Jordan Valley


THE residents of the village of Kardala in the northern Jordan Valley said this week that Israeli forces came to their village and destroyed a water pipeline that was supplying fresh water to the village, claiming that this happened while it was searching what it claims were ‘illegal’ water holes.

Residents of the villages of Kardala and nearby Bardala that live off agriculture did not believe the Israeli claim as they watched Israeli forces destroying their pipeline and going from one water pipeline to another in a clear move that Israel is after their water. Over the past two months, Israeli forces razed water pipelines in the two adjacent villages more than four times under the pretext that they were looking for open holes that they claimed were ‘illegal’.

During the same period, Israeli forces also seized water pipelines from Bardala and destroyed a water pool in the area of al-Farisiya in the northern valley. Aref Daraghmah, rights activists from the Jordan Valley, said that according to agreements signed with Israel after its 1967 occupation, citizens in the villages of Bardala and Kardala are allowed to have 240 cubic metres of water an hour.

However, this rate dropped over time by more than a half and is not confined to 140 cubic metres.

In the summer, when temperature is usually high, residents need double the quantity of water they would use during winter. Residents say Israel deliberately chooses the summer to destroy the water pipelines.

‘If our crops remain without water for days during the winter, they will be slightly affected, but in the summer, they have to be irrigated daily so they don’t die,’ says Ibrahim Fuqaha, a resident of Kardala and the head of its Green Cooperative Agricultural Society.

‘When the water is reduced in the summer, everything else is reduced. Production is no longer the same as it would be if we get enough water,’ said Fuqaha. ‘Their goal is clear. They just want to empty the Jordan Valley of its original inhabitants in order to make it better for Israeli settlers,’ said Nabil Fuqaha, a farmer who has land in the Jordan Valley.

The numbers indicate that the average consumption of an Israeli settler living in the northern Jordan Valley is 8 times more than that of a Palestinian citizen, according to a study done by Abdullah Hourani Centre. This indicates that Israel, despite the absence of a balance in the quantities of water consumed by the Palestinian vis-à-vis the settler, also deprives the Palestinians of the right to have additional quantities of water, which it transfers for the benefit of the settlers.

In the last few years, Israel has intensified its war on water in the agricultural areas of the Jordan Valley and has destroyed water pipelines almost daily. Life in the northern Jordan Valley does not go on without having enough water for the residents and their farms.

‘Israel is going after our water, and takes it away. We cannot cultivate our lands, which we used to plant in the past with all kinds of crops. We, the humans, also need more water in the summer,’ said Nabil Fuqaha. The northern Jordan Valley is considered one of the largest water basins in Palestine, and this is a main reason for making these areas rich in irrigated farming, which, in recent years continued even during the summer.

• Following a record low in exit permit approvals for Gaza patients in 2017, Israel’s policy with regard to exit permits for Gaza residents has been further tightened, a press statement by Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said on Wednesday.

Figures provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defence in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Gisha indicate that in the first quarter of 2018 alone, 833 exit permit applications by residents of Gaza were denied by Israel on the grounds that the applicants’ ‘first-degree relative is a Hamas operative’.

For comparison, the Israeli authorities refused 21 applications on these grounds throughout 2017. Physicians for Human Rights, Israel (PHRI) and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza report that starting June 2018, the Israeli authorities rejected applications by at least 13 patients in need of medical treatment unavailable in Gaza, including cancer patients.

Adalah, Al Mezan, Gisha, and Physicians for Human Rights Israel submitted a petition to Israel’s High Court on Sunday on behalf of seven medical patients who were openly denied access to treatment because of a claim that their family members are ‘Hamas operatives’.

The marked escalation in Israel’s access policy vis-à-vis Gaza residents appears to be a result of a decision made by Israel’s Security Cabinet on January 1, 2017, and implemented extensively since the beginning of 2018, which orders ‘several operative measures to serve as leverage over Hamas with respect to returning captured and missing persons’.

One of the measures approved by the cabinet in this context was ‘cancelling exit from Gaza for medical treatment to relatives of Hamas members’. Figures received in 2018 indicate that the cabinet decision has entered into effect and been applied rigorously since the beginning of the year.

One of the cancer patients affected is Nivin Haboub, 40, who has metastatic breast cancer that has spread to her bones. She was referred for radioiodine therapy at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.

Haboub entered Israel in November 2015 to receive similar treatment, which means that she passed the security check applied by the Israeli security authorities, but in the past year all of her applications for an exit permit from Gaza have been rejected by Israel’s Civil Liaison Administration (CLA) at Erez/Beit Hanoun Crossing on the grounds that she is related to a Hamas member. Haboub supposes that her alleged relative with ties to Hamas might be a 65-year-old man who was formerly imprisoned in Israel on security charges.

Importantly, some of the cancer patients who have been denied exit permits are not aware of any family relation to a Hamas member. One example is Amal Abu Jama, 33, from Khan Younis, who was diagnosed with a benign meningioma brain tumour and referred for surgery at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. Her permit application was refused due to a supposed Hamas-affiliated relative, but Abu Jama says she does not know of any family members either affiliated with or active in Hamas.

Faida Ebid, 40, of Deir al-Balah, who has a malignant breast tumour, is another example.

She too has been referred for radioiodine therapy at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. On June 11th, 2018, her application for an exit permit was denied by the CLA on account that she is related to a Hamas member.

Ebid denies having any familial relationship to Hamas members, and notes that three of her relatives have travelled to Israel for medical treatment over the past year, meaning they had passed the security check. Adalah, Al Mezan, Gisha and PHRI wrote in a statement: ‘Once again it comes to light that Israel is using patients in need of medical treatment, including cancer patients, as pawns for political gain.

‘When reviewing permit applications submitted by patients from Gaza, Israel’s chief consideration should be their medical needs, rather exploiting their hardships as leverage for mounting pressure on the de-facto authorities in Gaza. ‘Denying patients access to medical treatment on the grounds that they have family relations to Hamas members is a breach of international law, and completely immoral.

‘Israel must immediately put an end to this unacceptable practice, which increases the suffering and despair of Gaza residents, and allow patients access to life-saving treatment that is unavailable in the Strip. ‘The solution to the crisis in Gaza cannot be found in further collective punishment and abuse of the civilian population, but rather in opening the crossings and enabling Gaza’s recovery.’