All week, Palestinians living in the village of Aqaba, in the western part of the Jordan Valley, have been receiving demolition orders on their homes and village buildings from Israeli authorities. The village lies in an area that Israeli officials plan to annex and make part of Israel (as outlined in a plan laid out by current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in March).
The latest demolition orders are added to 16 previous demolition orders which threaten to destroy the social, economic and cultural institutions and life of the village. Palestinians in Aqaba face a daily fight for their survival and existence. There is no appeal for the demolition orders, and in most cases Palestinians whose homes are demolished by Israel are required by the Israeli authorities to pay for the demolition.
The new military orders target part of the village mosque, and road structures within the village. Threatened by 16 other demolition orders made earlier in the year, the village council took a decision in March to improve the infrastructure and the roads of the village in order to challenge the Occupation. A newly cemented road, the walkways and pedestrian crossings, are there to show the Occupation and the world, that the village will not surrender their land.
However, threats to the village are continuing to increase as Israeli plans to take over the land of Aqaba become clearer. The village’s location, on a hilltop, adds to the strategic interest of the Israeli authorities, who have laid out a plan for the takeover of the entire Jordan Valley, home to 80,000 Palestinians, and the basis of the livelihood (through farming and work) for 250,000 more.
In the period preceding the current open conflict, from 1993 to 2000, hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers poured into the Palestinian West Bank, many of them into the Jordan Valley.
Although the Israeli colonization of occupied Palestinian territory is considered illegal under international law, no international body or nation has been able to prevent Israeli citizens from illegally moving onto Palestinian land in the West Bank. Today the village is besieged by a military training zone and a checkpoint that monitor all movement.
While Aqaba continues its daily struggle for existence, the Jordan Valley itself is still under intensive isolation. For more than a week restrictions have resulted in no Palestinians from the Valley under 30 years from leaving or entering the area.
With similar measures in place throughout Jerusalem, Israeli forces have de facto claims full control over these areas in the attempt to expel Palestinians living there. On a regular basis, Occupation Forces confiscate the ID cards of Palestinians working in the northern Jordan Valley, if they are not “registered” as “residents” in the Valley.
ID cards are confiscated at checkpoints and also through raids upon Palestinian farms, where workers and employers risk losing their ID cards. With this they lose the ability to move through the West Bank, which is peppered with hundreds of Israeli checkpoints.
The process to recover the ID card is a complex and difficult one, paved with lures to collaborate with the Occupation and take a “permit” which denies access to the lands currently being isolated. Often, the ID cards are never returned or replaced, making for a precarious existence for such Palestinians. As the Grassroots Campaign Against the Wall stated in their report on the subject, "Day by day the Jordan Valley becomes an area for ‘Jewish settlers only’, while the international community remains complicit in the Occupation’s crimes."