On Sunday 6th April a Brighton, delegation arrived in the Palestinian village of Al Farsiya, on a sun- parched hillside in the Jordan Valley. They looked around to see a few large canvas tents, a wooden cowshed, a small chicken and dove coop, and a latrine made of tin and plastic. They then met local people trying to eke out a living, until very recently piping water from a nearby natural spring, and learned that their very existence is under threat.
Three weeks ago the Israeli Defence Force cut the pipes that bring water from the spring to the people, animals, olive and palm trees. They confiscated the pipes, claiming that the water spring belongs to the state and the villagers cannot use it. They have also forbidden the villagers from building a concrete water tank to collect rainwater. Their only water source is now mobile water tanks, donated by Ma’an Development Centre, that they have to take 7 km away to fill with water, and water that has been used to wash dates in the nearby Israeli settlement. They cannot get enough water for themselves and their animals, and to water their runner beans, cucumbers and other crops.
Father of 13 children, Jassir, said: “I was born here and my father lived here for 50 years. We have documentation to prove we own the spring, but the Israeli Defence Force say we cannot use the water. They say that if we complain they will come with their bulldozers to demolish the place.”
Three days ago, on 3rd April the villagers’ existence was further threatened by the imposition of demolition orders on two of the family tents, the cattle shed, the chicken and dove coop, and the latrine.
The Brighton visitors asked “Why?” and the locals pointed to the nearby Israeli settlements of Rotem to the South and Mahola to North – two of many Israeli settlements that have taken over the vast majority of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley since 1967. As the settlements gradually expand, the pressure on Palestinian communities to give up and leave is increased. Before Israel occupied the West bank in 1967 there were over 1000 residents in Al Farsiya – now there are less than 200, but they are determined to stay. They have documentation confirming their legal rights to the land they live on, and plan to challenge the demolition orders in court.
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From the 5-15 of April 2008 a delegation from Brighton will visit Tubas and the Jordan Valley.
The Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group was set up in 2006 and is a network aimed at fostering links between community groups in Tubas and the Jordan Valley in Palestine and Brighton in England.
The Jordan Valley is an area is annexing particularly forcefully with the aim of removing its Palestinian population and making their life there impossible.
All press releases and blogs from those on the delegation will be on our blog site at http://www.brighton%20palestine.%20org/blog
For background information about Brighton Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group and our work in the Tubas and Jordan Valley region of the West Bank see our website at http://tubas.%20brightonpalestin%20e.org/
For more background information about the Jordan Valley project see