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Israeli forces uproot 200 cactus seedlings in Jordan Valley

Dec. 18, 2018 4:25 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2018 11:09 A.M.)
JORDAN VALLEY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces uprooted hundreds of cactus seedlings belonging to a Palestinian resident in the Bardala village in the northern occupied West Bank, on Tuesday afternoon.

A Palestinian official in charge of Jordan Valley's Israeli settlements file at the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mutaz Bisharat, said that Israeli forces uprooted 200 five-month-old cactus seedlings.

Bisharat added that the seedlings belong to local resident Faris Sawafta in Bardala in the Jordan Valley.

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.

The unpredictability of the training drills leaves rural Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley anxious about when they will be displaced, and whether the next time will be permanent.

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

The majority of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control, while at least 44% of the total land in the Jordan Valley has been re-appropriated by Israeli forces for military purposes and training exercises.

According to the Palestinian nonprofit the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), using data from the Palestine Ministry of Wall and Colonization Affairs, the group reported that 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.

Palestinians in the Jordan Valley are one of the most vulnerable groups to displacement, with over 60 percent of the 6,000 Palestinians forcibly displaced since 2008 belonged to herding or Bedouin communities, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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