Today, Monday, Palestinian farmers were able to enter their lands in the Jordan Valley, in the northern West Bank, with the aim of cultivating them, some 46 years after the Israeli occupation prevented them from entering it.
The farmers’ entry came about 4 years after an Israeli judicial decision was issued to return the Qa’on Valley, northwest of the village of Bardala in the Tubas governorate, to its Palestinian owners and evicting settlers from it.
For its part, the Palestinian Civil Affairs Authority said Sunday, “For the first time since 1974, the owners of the lands of the Qa`oun Valley will be able to enter their lands,” explaining that 13 agricultural tractors will cultivate that land.
Farmer activist Rashid Khudair from the village of Bardala said that the farmers – 20 people – had already entered their lands before noon, adding, “They will need an Israeli permit every time they want to enter their lands.”
For his part, Walid Assaf, head of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission, said that the commission, in cooperation with the local council of Bardala village and Tubas governorate, managed years ago to obtain an Israeli judicial decision to return the lands to their owners.
Assaf said that the decision included removing the settlers from it, adding that a few days ago, the Palestinian association managed to reach an agreement with the Israeli side, allowing farmers to enter with their agricultural tractors and plow their lands.
Closed military areas
Tawfiq Jabareen, the lawyer for the Wall Resistance Authority, who represented the organization and the local councils in the Israeli courts, said that upon the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, large areas of the Jordan Valley were closed military zones, but after years it allowed settlers to establish an agricultural village in the Qa’on Plain.
In an interview with Voice of Palestine Radio today, he added that the claims to restore the land began in 2015 as it was stolen private property, and in September 2017, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a final decision to evacuate settlers and return the land to its owners.
Jabareen indicated his intention to go to the Israeli judiciary soon to request compensation for farmers for the period of using their lands, and to demand changing the route of the separation wall beyond those lands, so that farmers can freely enter their lands.
It is noteworthy that, since 1967, the Jordan Valley, which is estimated at 1.6 million dunums, has been the subject of Israeli targeting, and the Palestinians have no freedom to exploit or build in it.
The population of the Jordan Valley is estimated at 65,000 Palestinians, distributed in 34 communities, compared to about 13,000 settlers in 38 settlements.