Israeli forces cut down dozens of olive trees in northern Jordan Valley

Days of Palestine - Jordan Valley

Israeli occupation forces Wednesday cut down dozens of olive trees belonging to Bardala village in the northern Jordan Valley, according to a local municipal source.

Ziad Sawafta, head of Bardala village council, told the official Wafa news agency that Israeli occupation forces escorted a bulldozer into the village, and destroyed some 85 olive trees belonging to three Palestinian farmers.

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The Jordan 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.

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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.

Israel has announced that it would illegally annex the highly strategic Jordan Valley on July 1.