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Israel orders evacuation of 5 families in Jordan Valley for military exercises

June 5, 2018 3:37 P.M. (Updated: June 6, 2018 3:23 P.M.)
TUBAS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday delivered temporary eviction notices to five Palestinian families in the Hamsa al-Fawqa area in the Jordan Valley in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas.

Locals told Ma’an that the families were ordered to leave their homes to make way for Israeli military authorities who would be conducting active military training drills in the area.

The five families, including 19 children, will be left without homes for the duration of the training, which coincides with the last 10 days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, local Palestinian activist Aaref Daraghmeh warned of the gravity of the forced displacement of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley.

Daraghmeh told the Voice of Palestine radio that the Israeli forces aim to expel residents from the area, stressing the dangers of unexploded ordnances left by the Israeli army following military trainings.

Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley regularly face evacuations and interruption due to Israeli military exercises on or near their land. The district of Tubas, meanwhile, is one of the occupied West Bank's most important agricultural centers.

The majority of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control, despite being within the West Bank. Meanwhile, at least 44 percent of the total land in the Jordan Valley has been reappropriated by Israeli forces for military purposes and training exercises.

According to the Palestinian nonprofit the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), more than 400,000 dunams (98,842 acres) of the 720,000 dunams (177,916 acres) that make up the total area of the Jordan Valley has been transformed into closed military and firing zones, with at least 27,000 dunams (6,672 acres) confiscated for illegal Israeli settlement building.

The Israeli rights group B'Tselem has emphasized the detrimental effects such trainings have on communities that are dependent on farming and shepherding. "B’Tselem’s research has found that over the course of the military maneuver, ten sheep and goats died in the evacuated communities. In addition, ammunition remnants from the military training caused fires."

Israeli military training exercises in the Jordan Valley have increased dramatically since 2012 and are one of many tools used to forcibly displace rural Palestinian communities, NGO Jordan Valley Solidarity says, part of a historic process of creeping annexation of the valley by Israel's military.

Forming a third of the occupied West Bank and with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C, the Jordan Valley has long been a strategic area of land unlikely to return to Palestinians following Israel's occupation in 1967.

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