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In photos: the dark reality in the occupied Jordan Valley

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The Israeli occupation of Palestine is largely reported in the Western media, if it all, through the lens of the West Bank and Gaza. These areas contain millions of Palestinians whose lives are controlled by the Israeli army and hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers. The Jordan Valley, situated in the West Bank, is given less attention within that press coverage. It’s almost invisible in the Israeli media (with a 2011 poll finding that most Israelis didn’t even know the Jewish state was occupying the area). There are nearly 65,000 Palestinians living there along with 11,000 Israeli settlers.

I’ve recently spent time in the Jordan Valley reporting on the nightmarish situation for many Palestinian shepherds and residents in the face of constant Israeli army attacks, arrests and abuse. Extreme settlers, working with the military, are literally trying to push Palestinians off their land.

The following photo essay documents one day in the life of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley.

Traveling from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley is a short drive past countless Palestinian villages, Israeli checkpoints and illegal Israeli settlements. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Traveling from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley is a short drive past countless Palestinian villages, Israeli checkpoints and illegal Israeli settlements. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Israeli activist Guy Hirschfeld works every day in the Jordan Valley to defend Palestinian shepherds against the Israeli army and settlers. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Israeli activist Guy Hirschfeld works every day in the Jordan Valley to defend Palestinian shepherds against the Israeli army and settlers. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

The calm before the storm in the beauty, stillness and roughness of the Jordan Valley. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

The calm before the storm in the beauty, stillness and roughness of the Jordan Valley. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Palestinian shepherd Ahmed arrives with his sheep and is soon surrounded by the Israeli army and told to leave because it is a closed military zone. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Palestinian shepherd Ahmed arrives with his sheep and is soon surrounded by the Israeli army and told to leave because it is a closed military zone. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

An Israeli army jeep crisscrosses the Jordan Valley, on daily patrol in the area. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

An Israeli army jeep crisscrosses the Jordan Valley, on daily patrol in the area. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Palestinian shepherd Ahmed is told by Israeli soldiers that he must leave the area. (Photo: Anthony Loewenstein)

Palestinian shepherd Ahmed is told by Israeli soldiers that he must leave the area. (Photo: Anthony Loewenstein)

Hirschfeld tells an Israeli soldier that she has no right to block Palestinian freedom of movement in the area, but the military says otherwise. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Hirschfeld tells an Israeli soldier that she has no right to block Palestinian freedom of movement in the area, but the military says otherwise. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Hirschfeld constantly films and photographs his actions in the Jordan Valley, posting them on Facebook, to document the daily abuses committed by the Israeli army and settlers. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Hirschfeld constantly films and photographs his actions in the Jordan Valley, posting them on Facebook, to document the daily abuses committed by the Israeli army and settlers. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Near the end of the day, Palestinian shepherd Mohammed is detained and put in restraints by the Israeli army after refusing to stop grazing his sheep. His keffiyeh was pulled over his eyes, and he was put in the back of an Israeli army jeep and taken to a nearby base where an image of Batman is painted on the outside wall. Mohammed was later released soon after he was detained, following Israeli commanders seeing Hirschfeld’s Facebook live-stream of the arrest. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Near the end of the day, Palestinian shepherd Mohammed is detained and put in restraints by the Israeli army after refusing to stop grazing his sheep. His keffiyeh was pulled over his eyes, and he was put in the back of an Israeli army jeep and taken to a nearby base where an image of Batman is painted on the outside wall. Mohammed was later released soon after he was detained, following Israeli commanders seeing Hirschfeld’s Facebook live-stream of the arrest. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Israeli activist Guy Hirschfeld argues with Israeli soldiers. He explains that they’re doing the work of the settlers by kicking Palestinian shepherds off their land. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Israeli activist Guy Hirschfeld argues with Israeli soldiers. He explains that they’re doing the work of the settlers by kicking Palestinian shepherds off their land. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

An Israeli soldier guards the Palestinian shepherd, Mohammed in the moments before he is taken to a nearby army base. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

An Israeli soldier guards the Palestinian shepherd, Mohammed in the moments before he is taken to a nearby army base. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

Hirschfeld shows an Israeli soldier photos and videos he’s shot throughout the day, documenting the actions of the army in the Jordan Valley. (Antony Loewenstein)

Hirschfeld shows an Israeli soldier photos and videos he’s shot throughout the day, documenting the actions of the army in the Jordan Valley. (Antony Loewenstein)

Antony Loewenstein

Antony Loewenstein is a Jerusalem-based, independent, investigative journalist who has written for the New York Times, Guardian and many others, author of “My Israel Question” and “Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe,” amongst others, writer of the documentary “Disaster Capitalism” and will be releasing a book on the global “war on drugs” in 2019. He’s been reporting on Israel/Palestine since 2003.

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5 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on March 27, 2019, 12:55 pm

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (to better understand Israel):
    “American Settler Colonialism: A History” 2013 Edition, Kindle Edition
    by W. Hixson (Author)
    https://www.amazon.com/American-Settler-Colonialism-W-Hixson-ebook/dp/B00HP4KEW8

  2. Neil Schipper on March 27, 2019, 4:44 pm

    Antony Loewenstein, thanks for the “photo essay”, but shouldn’t you be aiming to score in the other goal?

    I see well-fed sheep.

    I see a hipster yid (without a scratch) who seems to be enjoying the outing. (I can’t tell if Ahmed or Mohammed were harmed.)

    I see a Woman of Color asserting authority over palefaces Ahmed & Guy — a veritable intersectionalist’s fantasy.

    You wrote “soon surrounded by the Israeli army”, and the next photo is of a vast barren landscape with a single jeep, apparently carrying three unhelmeted soldiers. Are you shooting for comedy?

    And we have no context. You don’t tell us the claims of the shepherds and the counterclaims of the IDF. There is no map with borders, no discussion of signed agreements. This is not journalism.

    It looks like staged agitprop. Shouldn’t you be on your guard to avoid gaining a reputation as a nincompoop?

    As to the “nightmarish situation for many Palestinian shepherds and residents in the face of constant Israeli army attacks, arrests and abuse”, how does this jibe with “Mohammed was later released soon after he was detained”?

    How does an educated person write such words knowing as you do what’s happening in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Kashmir, Sinai, Libya, Mali, and maybe a dozen other places in the region?

    Finally, it appears you are shooting stills. If you shot video, wouldn’t you have a better chance at finding a few frames that reveal the IDF’s purported genocidal racist hatred, and the commitment of grave crimes against humanity?

    • Misterioso on March 28, 2019, 9:41 am

      Regarding the Palestinian Jordan Valley, illegally occupied by the entity referred to as “Israel”:

      Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu approved construction of hundreds of new homes in the occupied Jordan Valley. He also vowed that Israel would retain control of the area in a permanent accord with the Palestinians. In a statement issued to the media by the Prime Minister’s office, Netanyahu told representatives of the Jordan Valley during a meeting with them that “the government saw the Jordan Valley as inseparable from the State of Israel in any permanent agreement”. (The Toronto Star, Dec. 1, 1996)

      1999, March 15: Netanyahu pledged to strengthen Jewish settlements in the West Bank . He toured the Jordan Valley , territory occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, and vowed Israel would stay there forever. “Without the Jordan Valley , without this protective wall, we cannot protect the state of Israel and therefore we will remain here forever” he added.

      The Israeli government decided to keep control of all Jewish settlements, water resources, holy sites and all infrastructures in the OPT. It will not yield control of these “vital and national interests” under any negotiations with the Palestinians. The Netanyahu cabinet declared in a statement that ” Israel ‘s vital and national interests in Judea, Samaria , and the Jordan Valley … will constitute the basis of the interim agreement and the final status agreement with the Palestinians”. (The Toronto Star, Jan. 14/1998)

    • Miriam on March 28, 2019, 1:48 pm

      “Shouldn’t you be on your guard to avoid gaining a reputation as a nincompoop?”….right back atcha, NP.
      So if you were working but someone in uniform with automatic weapon pointed at you ‘arrested/detained’ you and ‘allowed’ you to get back to work you’d be “okay’ with that bub? harrassment no prob? intimidation, threats or worse, still okay with you? another hasbaRAT.

  3. Ossinev on March 30, 2019, 7:56 am

    @Neil Schipper
    “I see well-fed sheep”

    I see brainwashed colonial Fascists. The girl with the oversize shades standing “guard” over the detained Palestinian “terrorist” looks as if she is in serious “come on punk make my day” heaven. And the positioning of the weapon – wow Top Gun !

    BTW Loved your “whataboutery” list especially the”maybe a dozen other places ” addendum.
    You need to refine your act though. Perhaps ask Hasbara Central to send you their latest whataboutery tutorial. Kashmir is not in the “region” and “maybe” sounds a tad amateurish.

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