JORDAN VALLEY, Israeli settlers today stormed Khirbet Makhoul village in the northern Jordan Valley, according to local sources.
Burhan Bsharat, a villager, said that some 20 settlers from the nearby colonial settlement outpost broke into the village, intimidated and ordered the villagers to leave their lands to make room for colonial settlement expansion.
He added that the villagers were concerned about settlers would commit serious attacks, particularly that they have been storming the village during nighttime.
This came after the villagers held a sit-in protesting frequent settler attack, facilitated under military protection.
As part of their attacks against the village, settlers have frequently expelled shepherds from nearby pastures.
Under international law, driving residents of an occupied territory from their homes is considered forcible transfer of protected persons, which constitutes a war crime. But residents of Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley are no strangers to such disruptive Israeli policies.
The valley, which is a fertile strip of land running west along the Jordan River, is home to about 65,000 Palestinians and makes up approximately 30% of the West Bank.
Since 1967, when the Israeli army occupied the West Bank, Israel has transferred at least 11,000 of its Jewish citizens to the Jordan Valley. Some of the settlements in which they live were built almost entirely on private Palestinian land.
The Israel military has also designated about 46 percent of the Jordan Valley as a closed military zone since the beginning of the occupation in June 1967, and has been utilizing the pretext of military drills to forcefully displace Palestinian families living there as part of a policy of ethnic cleansing and stifling Palestinian development in the area.
Approximately 6,200 Palestinians live in 38 communities in places earmarked for military use and have had to obtain permission from the Israeli authorities to enter and live in their communities.
In violation of international law, the Israeli military not only temporarily displaces the communities on a regular basis, but also confiscates their farmlands, demolishes their homes and infrastructure from time to time.
Besides undergoing temporary displacement, the Palestinian families living there face a myriad restrictions on access to resources and services. Meanwhile, Israel exploits the resources of the area and generates profit by allocating generous tracts of land and water resources for the benefit of settlers.
Israeli politicians have made it clear on several occasions that the highly strategic Jordan Valley would remain under their control in any eventuality.
Source: Palestine News & Info Agency