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Reports from the Brighton-Tubas Group - The Bsharat Family

Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group | 20.10.2009 11:18 | Campaign against Carmel-Agrexco | Anti-militarism | Palestine | South Coast | World

Six members of Brighton Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group are now in the West Bank. They have been visiting communities in the Jordan Valley and Bil'in, and have a lot of plans for the next few weeks. Read their blog at to keep up to date with what is happening.

The Brighton Tubas Region Friendship and Solidarity Group is a network aiming at fostering links between community organisations in Tubas, occupied Palestine and Brighton. The Tubas Region, which includes the Northern Jordan Valley, is an area Israel wants to ethnically cleanse and annex. Israel is doing this by making life impossible for the people of the valley.

By the side of the road that runs through Al Jiftlik is a small shack that houses the eight members of the Bsharat family. It sits only a few feet from the road where the service taxi dropped us off and is surrounded on all sides by the prominent greenhouses that dominate this area of the Jordan Valley. Half built from breeze blocks and half from bamboo and plastic sheeting the house looks as if it may fall in on itself at any moment. Thankfully, our guide explains to me that this is one of the houses set to be renovated by the Jordan Valley Solidarity project in collaboration with the Norwegian government.

The greenhouses surrounding the house belong to a rich Palestinian landowner and not, as I initially assumed, a settlement. The head of the family explains to us that his family have lived for 25 years on the land, renting it from the Palestinian landowner. They use the land to grow produce that is sold to shops in the West Bank.

We ask the family whether they experience any specific difficulties farming in the Jordan Valley. They explain to us how their produce is held up at the checkpoints in the hot sun meaning that by the time it reaches the shops it is no longer fresh and they cannot fetch a full price for it. Before they can even take their produce through the checkpoints they must pay the Israelis for a permit and a license to take their goods out of the Jordan Valley. Both of these are expensive and add significant costs to their overheads. Demanding an export license from Palestinians in the Jordan Valley who are selling their goods to the Palestinian market is further evidence of the Israeli intention to permanently annex the Jordan Valley.

The family explain to us that before the Israeli’s war on Gaza in January of this year they were able to sell their produce to shops inside 1948 Israel. However, during the bombing campaign their produce was banned from crossing into Israel and is still forbidden now. This represents the loss of a significant market for them.

Unlike most Palestinians in the Jordan Valley who are forced to buy their water from the Israeli water company Mekorot, the family purchase their water from the same water station that supplies Tubas and Al Fara' refugee camp. Whilst they only have to pay 80 shekels per month for their drinking water, the pipe that supplies the agricultural land costs 150 shekels per hour to use. Because of this they are limited in their use of the pipe yet it still costs them roughly 1500 shekels a month to irrigate their land. To supplement their income, one man works in the nearby Massu'a settlement for 50 shekels a day.

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