Wadi al Maleh: Military training as a tool of displacement
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Wadi al Maleh: Military training as a tool of displacement

Israeli policies of holding military trainings in the middle of populated areas is Israel continues and has once again cost farmers their livelihoods. Every year the military organizes large scale military training on the land of the Palestinian farmers in the northern part of Jordan Valley. Usually these trainings take place during the summer, when the farmers are about to harvest their crops, but this time they started training at the beginning of the winter, when the farmers prepare the land for cultivation and plant the seeds. This means planting can’t happen and people will have nothing to harvest in the coming season.

This year Wadi al Maleh, the ‘Salty Valley’, was the target of the military operation. Al Farisya, the community which has suffered the most from this year’s military trainings, is located at the eastern part of the Wadi al Maleh, 20 km east of Toubas city. The Israeli occupation military gave notice to the families to leave their places during the military training days, leaving their tents and animals behind under the mercy of the tanks and life ammunition.
The fertile valley took its name from the hot springs that historically flow down the valley. Before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, thirteen communities have been living in the valley but since then a relentless and multifaceted policy of displacement has put each and everyone in Wadi al Maleh under heavy pressure to leave the area. Al Farisya is today inhabited by 300 people, while they were 1000 until 1967.
Once under Israeli occupation, the lands of valley have been declared closed military zone, barring farmers from building and destroying their tents and animals shelters, shooting the animals and seizing the grazing land for military uses. Today only five communities still remain in Wadi al Maleh: Al Farisya,  Khirbet Samra, Khirbet Hamma, Ein al Helweh and Hammamat al Maleh. These communities are facing the repeated the destruction of their structures – whether homes, infrastructure or commercial buildings – under the pretext of building without permission or being located in a military closed zone. The people of these communities depend on their animals to sustain themselves, even after 70% of their land seized for military training.
In fact, when military trainings occur during the summer months, they take place during the period in which the wheat is being dried in the fields and the tanks running over the fields or any spark or flame burns the crop. Then farmers, who depend on the dried grain to feed their animals during the usually very hot and dry summer season, are left without any fodder for their livestock.
Even though the valley is famous for its water reserves, Israel has taken control over the water resources and denies Palestinians access to water. This forces the farmers to bring water with water trucks, mainly from Bardala and Ein al Beida, some 30 km north of the area. The communities have no health services or electricity as any service or infrastructure is prohibited by the occupation and faces demolition.
To add to these measures, the communities usually facing daily harassments by soldiers and settlers. Wadi al Maleh is surrounded by three settlements and three military camps, which target the lives of the Palestinian residents of the area, as an integral element of the ethnic cleansing policies.