According to the Oslo Accords from 1993 Palestinians were given from the Israelis control of part of the land that was designated areas A (full Palestinian control) and B (joint Palestinian and Israeli control). In the JordanValley area A is about 3% and B about 2% of the whole territory.
Every Palestinian living outside A area can face one of the most inhuman laws Israel executes against Palestinian people: building policy. Outside A and B not only construction of new houses is prohibited, but also renovations or reconstructions of the existing ones. Palestinian citizens are prohibited to run electricity and water to their homes. It is one of the methods to evict people from their properties; after decades without renovations houses are considered dangerous by owner’s fault of neglect and undergo confiscation. Moreover, all the families living outside of A and B live under a constant threat of their house being demolished. Even though area B is supposed to be jointly controlled by the Israelis and Palestinians and even though people living there ale allowed to build new houses, they can still face demolitions. Demolition means total destruction of the household including all human and animal facilities as well as ruining of the agricultural lands, uprooting olive trees and destroying of irrigation networks. The demolition act is preceded by formal notification however without planned date of the demolition given. Bulldozers can come in one week as well as in one year. This prevents people and volunteers from organizing themselves against the soldiers coming to execute demolition, but also causes stress and uncertainness of threatened houses’ owners. Israeli state does not provide any substitute housing for these people so dependently on their material and social situation they either flee or try to rebuild destroyed facilities.
Since we arrived to Al Jiftlik, we have been involved in different construction and building activities. One of those was covering the rooftop of our organisation’s friends meeting house, other project, in which we took part yesterday, is to build a new house in Al Fasayel – a village close to Al Jiftlik part of which lays in Area C. Most of the materials we use are natural and the building method was known here for years but now forgotten. Bricks are produced from mud (mixture of water, soil and hay) and air dried in the sun. Roof construction is made of either palm leaves covered with foil or mud again. It is almost cost-less however laborious way to make a house from scratch. Don’t try it at home (without Palestinian supervision 😉 ).