The Israeli government has approved a decision to expand N. Maskiyot settlement in Jordan Valley, seizing Palestinian land for a ‘military training base’.  This expansion of the settlement will expel Palestinians from even more areas of Wadi al-Maleh, a village that has faced increasing land confiscation as the Israeli settlement in the area has expanded this year.

On 21st of May, the Israeli government passed a decision to confiscate further 3000 dunums of Palestinian lands in Wadi al-Maleh to expand an Israeli settlement built illegally on Palestinian land in 1990. At that time, 150 dunums of village land from Tubas were taken to erect a structure where military, industrial and agricultural training courses are held. Israeli military, trainers and trainees usually stay for courses lasting 8 months. The structure’s expansion eastward, annexing more land, started at the beginning of this year and has been accelerated by the official approval of Israeli decision makers. Local residents have already witnessed new settlement construction springing up on their lands.

About 40 farming families, comprising 250-300 people, live in tents on their land in the area slated for the settlement’s expansion. Historically, farmers lived on these lands only during the planting and harvesting seasons. Presently, however, they have been forced to stay permanently as the isolation of the Jordan Valley makes movement almost impossible. Furthermore, under this new order, the al-Helweh spring will be isolated from the farmers and shepherds that rely on this water for their animals, so farming will become extremely difficult.  The Wadi al-Maleh farmers have already been ill-treated and beaten by Israeli settlers on a number of occasions, but they are determined to remain on their land.

Eight months ago, Occupation forces made a population count of Wadi al Maleh residents. Everybody that was in the area that day was given a number which, from that point on, has allowed him or her to cross the checkpoint isolating Wadi al-Maleh.  Any person who was not present that day is now completely barred from accessing or leaving the area.

In a statement released Monday, the Grassroots Anti-Wall Campaign declared, "The repression and confiscation of land and living spaces for the Palestinian population goes hand in hand with the isolation of the whole Jordan Valley."  In addition to the land confiscation and closure, Israeli forces recently installed cameras at the checkpoints which block access to the Jordan Valley. These cameras cover vast areas surrounding the checkpoints in order to block farmers and workers that want to “infiltrate” their own land and property. Local residents see these cameras as escalating the siege against their existence in the Valley, as part of the attempt to force them off their land.

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