On 21st May 2014, the houses and animal barracks of 13 families (including 71 people) were demolished in Abel al Ajaaj refugee camp which is located in Al Jiftlik, in the middle of the Jordan Valley. Under the Oslo accords this land was designated as Area C, in an interim agreement that gave Israel complete control over 60% of the West Bank*. On 20th May the Israeli Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett, had an op-ed published in the New York Times, where he reiterated his 2012 call for the occupation forces to unilaterally annex all Area C land to the Israeli state.

A demolition order was issued on 30th April, giving the residents of Abel al Ajaaj 45 days to leave the area. At this time, the rest of the camp is still under threat of demolition.

On 21st May the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrived in the village at 6:30 in the morning, closing all the roads leading to the area, cutting the electricity cables, and destroying their columns. They arrived with 20 jeeps, 2 army buses, and 5 bulldozers (around 200 soldiers.) After removing the people from their houses and ordering them out of the camp, they began the demolition. Among others, the houses of Shehede Abdu al Moati Diesaat, Adnaan Abdl Moti Diesaat, and Omar Abdl Moti Diesaat were demolished. This includes their homes, the animals barracks, and the houses of their sons (each has three sons.)

The residents of Abel al Ajaaj Refugee Camp were expelled from their original village in historic Palestine in 1948. Over the last 10 years the nearby settlement of Massu’a has carried out several armed raids on the community, each time stealing another piece of land from Abel al Ajaaj, fencing it off, and using it for the settlement. On each occasion the Israeli police and army have been present and have supported the settlers’ criminal activity.

The first two settlement land grabs happened in 2004 and 2008, which were then backed up by demolition orders being served on the families whose land had been taken. On 31st October 2010 the Massu’a settlers returned and violently stole more land, then in December 2011 demolition orders were served on some of the community. Further demolitions were carried out in March 2012 and January 2013.

This latest move represents a major escalation of the harrassment of the Abel al Ajaaj community, and the occupation force’s attempts to drive them from their land.

*Under the 1983-5 Oslo accords this land was designated as Area C, in an interim agreement that gave the Israeli Occupation Forces complete control over 60% of the West Bank for 5 years, pending further talks. The Occupation Forces have used this as an opportunity to continuously extend their control of the Jordan Valley (95% of which is in Area C) and to gradually steal more and more Palestinian land, annexing it to the illegal Israeli settlements that are encroaching on all the Palestinian communities in the region.