Al Jazeera World
Last Shepherds of the Valley
Palestinian Bedouins in the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley struggle to cling on to an age-old way of life.
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2012 14:57

Stretching from Mozambique in southeast Africa to Syria in the Middle East, the Great Rift Valley is home to the world's lowest city, Jericho, which was established over 10,000 years ago.

Farmers and shepherds have tended flocks and lived off the land in the Jordan Valley for thousands of years.

But Israel's continued occupation of the region since 1967 is threatening the traditional way of life, restricting Palestinian development on the land, and Bedouin homes in the area have repeatedly been razed.

"I get angry when I see this well nearly empty and the settlement draining our water to turn their areas into a garden of Eden .... This is how they try to make us leave. By destroying the wells and preventing us from repairing them."

- Sirene Khuderi, a Jordan Valley solidarity campaign volunteer

Some 56,000 Palestinians live in the part of the valley that lies in the West Bank - many are Bedouin living in temporary communities, always moving with the herds.

Their determination to remain on the land is becoming ever more difficult in the face of daily attempts by the Israeli military and settlers to drive them off their land.

With water resources and agricultural potential, the valley represents the breadbasket and water well of any future Palestinian state.

While making life difficult for local communities, Israel also encourages the development of illegal agricultural settlements in the valley.

They already use the vast majority of the area's water resouces and bigger settlements would further threaten the living conditions of Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, limiting their opportunities for economic growth and pushing the Palestinians living there into greater poverty.

Abu Saqr and Sirene Khdeiri are two Jordan Valley residents struggling to stay on in the face of Israeli policies of home demolitions and arrest.

Their turbulent lives - and those of their community - have also put them at odds with the Palestinian Authority, who they pressure to take a stand in support of their continued existence in the Jordan Valley. They are seeking to protect Palestinian farming communities in the valley as they consider themselves the last line of defence for any future, self-sufficient Palestinian state.

This film documents the life and tribulations of Palestinian shepherds and farmers in the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley as they try to cling on to an age-old way of life.

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