Five Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern part of the West Bank, received eviction orders from the Israeli military on Sunday, just days after Israeli settlers set up an illegal outpost on the families’ land and took over a water well in the area. The eviction orders told the families to vacate their homes and land within ten days so that Israeli troops could occupy it.According to a town council member from Atuf, Abdallah Bisharat, the eviction will render 50 people homeless and, given that the families receiving the notices are farming families dependent on their land for their livelihoods. The evictions will be “devastating” for the families in question.
Bisharat told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an News, “[t]he lands the families are being evicted from have been inhabited by the farming and herding groups for many years. They are the pastoral lands from which hundreds of residents make their livings. The Israeli order to evacuate means a total destruction of the social fabric.”
The five Palestinian families who received eviction orders described the recent establishment of an Israeli settler outpost on their land as terrifying, as the settlers are armed, and have the full protection of the Israeli military. The Palestinian farmers are unprotected and vulnerable, although most retain titles to their land dating back to the Ottoman empire.
The settler outpost is considered illegal by the Israeli government, but the Israeli military has nonetheless been deployed to protect it, and have, over the last week, invaded the village on multiple occasions and broken into people’s homes.
At the same time, the armed Israeli settlers who set up trailers on the Palestinian farmers’ land last week took control of the area’s only water well, and have prevented the local indigenous Palestinian population from accessing the water. According to Bisharat, when the villagers went to the nearby Israeli military base to tell them about the water takeover, “ we were told to get water from the other villages and collect it in tanks”.
The Jordan Valley, in the eastern West Bank, is an area listed for takeover by the Israeli state in Israeli government documents. The area is among the most fertile land in the West Bank, and Israeli government officials have been quoted as saying that this land should be taken over for the state of Israel – despite its discontiguity with the rest of what is now Israel.