MASKIYOT, West Bank (AP) — They live just a couple of miles from each other along a country road winding through parched fields, but they are worlds apart.
Avinadav Vitkon, an Israeli freelance writer, is putting down roots in this strip of West Bank land known as the Jordan Valley, helping to establish a new Jewish settlement with his government's backing. Palestinian farmer Jasser Daraghmeh is barely hanging on to the 10 acres he says have been in his family for years.
Vitkon, 29, lives in a trailer, but will eventually move with his wife and four young children into one of 20 homes to be built on an adjacent hill. Daraghmeh, a 34-year-old father of six, expects the Israeli military to demolish his family's wooden shack because it was built without a permit.
Their differing fortunes are the product of a struggle for control of this valley alongside the Jordan River — biblical terrain which Israelis and Palestinians both say they need for national survival.
Struggle for control?
Airplanes, helicopters, tanks, bulldozers, and all sorts of armaments against what? Rocks, sticks, a few guns? WTF?
hat Zionist AmeriKan MSM bias again!
Israelis move freely through the valley, while Palestinians are hampered by building restrictions and roadblocks, one of which even keeps them from nearby Dead Sea beaches. Today, the valley has a distinctly Israeli feel, with Jewish settlements, Hebrew billboards, war memorials and a Jewish seminary lining a sleek highway packed with Israeli motorists.
Some 6,000 Israeli settlers live in 25 communities sprinkled across the area, whose West Bank sector stretches about 60 miles north to south, ending at the Dead Sea. Dubi Tal, a settler leader, says Israelis in the region are confident enough in the future to be investing in date palms, which take years to bear fruit.
Just two miles away, Farsiyeh has dwindled from about 100 families before 1967 to about 20 living in far-flung shacks, according to Daraghmeh, the farmer.
Some 53,000 Palestinians live in the Jordan Valley, about half in the ancient city of Jericho where Palestinians run their own administration. The rest live under full Israeli control, squeezed between settlements, military zones and off-limits nature reserves.
Daraghmeh says it's getting harder to water his crops. He points to a pile of black plastic pipes, remnants of his irrigation system. The Israeli military says it destroyed the pipeline running from a nearby spring to his fields because it was illegal.
It has gotten to the point where I don't even want an end to the occupation anymore; I just want an end to Zionist Israel.
I'm sick of these cancerous monsters on the face of this planet.