Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stealing Their Way to Statehood - Part I

by Gil Bringer

This is Part I of a meticulously researched article that describes in detail how Bedouins of the Jordan Valley are used by the Palestinian Authority to take over territory in Area C surreptitiously.

While in Israel they are still talking about renewing negotiations, in the PA they are establishing facts on the ground. The goal, which was declared a long time ago, is to take over areas in the C region and create territorial contiguity. The method: establishing and developing Bedouin settlements with the legal and monetary support of the residents, who increasingly identify with the idea of a Palestinian state. The National Prosecutor's office closes an eye and the civil administration ignores it as well, and conducts a policy of double standards of justice towards the Jews and the Arabs. The Palestinians: Jerusalem is the Gate to heaven and the Jordan valley is the gate to Palestine.

They come from all over, equipped with vehicles and water trailers, they slow down near the Rimonim Checkpoint, pull over and park next to the Mekorot* pumping station. Higher up, in the guard post, a soldier on watch sees them filling the water trailers by means of a water pipe that awaits them at the spot. No one at the guard post stops them. This is the procedure and this is how the soldiers are instructed to act. From here the Arabs continue onward. They return to their small outpost, situated in a bend in the road. During the journey on Vered Road, which stretches from Rimonim to Jericho they wave to a family member traveling in the opposite direction. He is also making his way with an empty water tank, towed behind his vehicle. He is also on his way to a pumping station. He will also return to the illegal outpost that he lives in with a container of water that was filled courtesy of the government of Israel. This is routine in the realm of the Jordan Valley.

The Bedouin outposts are spreading quickly in this area, desperate for water. Without it, they couldn't exist. Until lately, the tribes would drill a hole in the pipe of the Mekorot and steal water. Sometimes, they wouldn't even bother to connect a pipe to the hole that they drilled, so that the water would flow in the direction of their encampment. The result was a continuous and uncontrolled flow of water. Israel, for its own reasons, chose not to fight this phenomenon and instead decided to supply to the illegal Bedouin settlements with the water required for development. The pumping stations, scattered in different locations in Judea and Samaria, supply the Bedouins all the water they need, purposely and legally. However this new method of obtaining water, even though it is simpler and more orderly, enables the Bedouins to extend the limits of their invasive border expansion into areas that have never had Mekorot water pipes and it requires the Bedouins to have equipment that they traditionally wouldn't have - huge tanks, large water containers and trailers. However, there is someone who is interested in the spreading of the Bedouins, and taking possession of new territories. And he understands the demand for water equipment and therefore supplies to them everything that is required, wholesale. An exploration of the sources of the water containers reveals the method, the means and the goal. Who is behind the new Bedouin settlement in the Valley?

First Stop: The Writing on the Tank

While traveling along the Jordan Valley Road, quick glimpses in the direction of the settlements on the sides of the road are enough to create the whole picture. Hundreds of identical water containers are scattered in the area. The same color, the same size, the same shape. It is obvious that they have all been produced in the same factory and it's clear that one hand is directing their distribution. If you get off the road and take a glimpse from up close, it allows you to see clearly the writing in Arabic printed on each of the containers: "The Bedouin Support Program. Funding: PA. Execution: The Ministry of Local Government".

Next to the yellow containers used for water storage, scattered among many Bedouin outposts in the Valley, are water trailers of another type - silver-colored tanks on wheels. The phenomenon repeats itself - exactly the same trailer in each of the outposts that we checked. On every one of the trailers the telephone number of the producer is printed clearly. When we called that number, one of the workers answered and at our request, passed the telephone to Mr. Rushdi Rafet, who presents himself as the owner of a metal-work shop, the name of which is "Barzaliat Haj Rafet", from the village of Arabe, in the Galilee. I present myself as someone who is interested in buying a trailer and request from Rushdi recommendations on his recent work in the area of the Jordan Valley. He tells me that he produced the containers that are towed by tractors during recent years and that they were supplied to the areas of Jericho, Tekoa, Ramallah, Mishor-Adumim, to a quarry in Anatoth and other places. He has a few different models and colors. Some are galvanized and some are not. "It all depends on what you want to spend", he explains. A few of the containers were ordered by the red cross but most of those that he prepared were ordered by the PA. Rafet suggests that I speak with them about his good work. The containers of the other sort were distributed by him as per the request of the PA in the area of Jericho and Mishor-Adumim, the area in which the Bedouin outposts are concentrated.

The brotherhood that was created between the Bedouins and the Palestinian Authority is very strange to anyone who hears about it, because many of the Bedouin leadership abhor the PA and have been complaining for years that they are neglected. A senior source in the Bedouin sector who speaks with us accuses the PA of corruption in every matter that has anything to do with money that passes to it from outside sources who want to invest in Bedouin welfare. Their Bedouin brothers South of the Jordan Valley who live in the Negev have never heard a word about the Bedouin support of the PA. In that area there are no water containers of any sort, not yellow and not silver-colored. Why does the PA have a support program for the Bedouins in the Jordan Valley?

* Mekorot (literally, "sources") is the Israeli Water Authority

Read Part II here.
Read Part III here.
Read Part IV here.

Gil Bringer

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Source: Makor Rishon weekly Hebrew newspaper;

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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