The IDF on Saturday dispersed a Palestinian protest against Israeli plans to annex the Jordan Valley and the Megilot Region of the Dead Sea.
A group of over 100 activists, which included Israelis and Palestinians, had gone to an abandoned two-story stucco building near the Neve Midbar Beach, which is run by Kibbutz Kalya. The structure had once served as a restaurant and a hotel.
At one point, some of the activists went up to the roof and stood on the edge, waving Palestinian flags. They hung a few signs in English off the building, which stated, “Reclaim: Sovereignty. Borders. Land. Natural Resources.”
They chanted, “One, two, three, four, occupation no more.” The IDF dispersed the protesters, briefly detaining a few, but making no arrests.
Two NGOs – the Palestinian-based Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) and the Israel-based All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective – organized the event, which was designed to highlight both environmental issues relating to climate change and problems relating to the Israeli rule of the area of the northern Dead Sea, located over the pre-1967 lines.
Activist Sahar Vardi from Jerusalem said, “I am standing here in solidarity with my Palestinian partners because it is our duty, as Israelis, to resist these policies of resource theft, which are done in our names.
“At a time where Israeli politicians say that they will annex Area C, even further depriving Palestinians from their lands and resources, and in places like here, at the Dead Sea, we have no time to waste.
“It is our responsibility as Israelis to resist this in our actions and not just with words. It is also the responsibility of the international community to move from words to action, and sanction human rights violations and breaches of international law.”
The PSCC said the Palestinians had been “deprived of our rights to our land, water and natural resources as a colonized people” and that the group wanted to “reclaim Palestinian access to water for basic drinking needs, agriculture and livelihoods, and recreation, in the face of colonization.”
Muhmoud Zwahra of the PSCC said that if Israel truly believes in a two-state solution it must rethink its policies on the ground.
“There is alway hope,” Zwahra said, particularly by taking action to protect the environment through the planting of trees, which produce oxygen. The “walls the Israelis are building will never stop this oxygen from reaching the Israeli and Palestinian children,” he said.
The Megilot Regional Council said the demonstration was an unusual occurrence typically relaxed and quiet area that filled with local and international tourists.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to annex the Jordan Valley and the Megilot Region of the Dead Sea should he succeed in forming a new government.
Last Sunday the Yesha Council held a new year toast at the same beach and promised to push forward with plans to apply sovereignty to the area, noting that such a step was necessary to ensure Israeli security.