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Awareness Human Rights Walk for Bardala and Kardala

A joint initiative of forumZFD and Combatants for Peace

Earlier this year, on a day with sun rays and blue skies, visitors started to arrive to attend the very first Combatants for Peace (CfP) youth group public activity, ’Walk for Human Rights in Bardala and Kardala: Our right to live in Peace and with Dignity’. 
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© forumZFD

The newly formed youth group of Combatants for Peace (CfP) is a joint initiative of forumZFD and CfP, focusing on skills and leadership building activities with a peacebuilding approach at its forefront. It was created in 2021 and sees young activists from different parts of the West Bank. The objective of the group is to work on the vision of Combatants for Peace, a movement active in both Israel and Palestine, to end the Israeli occupation. Each member of this youth group is on a mission to ensure peaceful coexistence for all people in the region.  

The awareness walk organized by the CfP youth group took place in Bardala and Kardala, two small villages next to each other located in the northern part of the Jordan Valley. The dire situation of the villagers of Bardala and Kardala are a direct result of the occupation and sees for instance an unequal water distribution due to much of the water supply being diverted to illegal settlements in the West Bank. The impact that this shortage of water has on people’s daily lives, including its farming sector, is detrimental. A second focus of the awareness walk pertains to the remnants of Israeli army trainings where bombs, ammunition, landmines and other materials have been left behind. There have been cases where children find these devices or fragments resulting in major accidents. A third focus of the awareness walk was placed on housing demolitions.

Participants, including members of the international community and Israeli activists, came from throughout the region. At the first station of the walk, it was clearly visible that the villages’ water supply pumps were significantly smaller than the pumps for the Israeli settlements. Residents in Bardala receive between 70 to 86 liters of water for domestic use per day, while the settlers receive 200 to 220 liters. Another striking inequality is the fact that Palestinian villagers receive 120 cubic meters of water for agriculture use, mostly intermittent, whereas the settlers receive 2,500 cubic meters per day for agricultural use without interruption. 

At the second station, participants received information on the impact on farming lands and people witnessed the debris of what used to be a pond, which was destroyed in November 2021. One of the farmers together with Mr. Sawafta, Bardala’s community leader, shared how the lack of water through its unequal distribution as well as the destruction of main water sources, has tremendously changed the livelihood of the community. Mr. Sawafta continued to explain that years ago, watermelon, guava, oranges, and potatoes were cultivated in Bardala and even exported to Syria. He then pointed out that by occupying the land also the natural resources are being confiscated. This has caused a drastic change in Bardala’s agriculture and has forced farmers to adapt to the new circumstances.

Now, with so much less water, farmers are growing cucumbers, eggplants, squash, as well as white and green beans. The significantly reduced water supply for the crops also has directly affected the villagers’ economy and thus families are not having the same financial means as before. Moreover, as the gross unequal distribution of water worsens, crop options also become much more limited and as therefore the existence of these villages simply becomes ominous.

After a 15-minute walk, all participants reached the third station in the village of Kardala. Along the walk, people asked the youth questions, talked among each-other, and waved to curious passersby from the village. It was a friendly atmosphere, where also members of the local council came out to greet the crowd.

At the third station, one of the younger members of the CfP’s youth group presented the horrific stories surrounding land mines and other weapons left behind by Israeli soldiers. He explained that when he was a child, one of his friends found what looked like a toy. In their young minds they felt the excitement of finding a “treasure”. They played with the new-found treasure and then he brought it home to show his parents. They immediately called the Palestinian Fire Department as their son was holding a live small bomb. This was not the only time that this youth member found unexploded weapons. These mines and other military equipment date back from the 1967 War, and they are also left behind in current Israeli army trainings. The example given by the youth member from Kardala was one of several as he continued to also refer to the fact that farmers, families on a picnic, and other playing children have been injured, or worse, died by stepping on land mines, playing with bombs, missiles, and other remnants of war. Three years ago, three children died from playing with live explosives. Next to human casualties, there are also fatalities of cattle, which is a main source of the local livelihood.  

Palestinians are also subject to loss of their own land and as to date, more than 200,000 Dunas (200,000,000 Sq meters) have been taken from people by the Israeli military when they deem their land suitable as training grounds. Confiscation of land does not see any notice period, according to acquisition and land laws, Palestinian land can be seized at an instance for military purposes.

The Israeli military training has also had a devastating effect on Kardala’s honey farmers. A few meters from where the crowd was standing and listening to the disturbing stories about landmines and bombs, a pile of wooden sticks lay on the ground. It was explained that this is what was left of a thriving honey business and in this place all the beehives were kept. These beehives were destroyed by the Israeli military to get the land ready for their training exercises.


Walking further into the village of Kardala, the participants were met by a local boy handing out  cups of Arabic coffee. One of Kardala’s local council members shared a personal story. On the same day of his son’s wedding reception, he received an order from the Israeli military to demolish his newly build home, which was a gift to his son and his new wife. The housing situation in Kardala is desolating, the council member continued, there are 50 houses, and only 6 of these were built with the permission of the Israeli authorities. This is unfortunately the reality of Palestinians in the West Bank as it is impossible to be granted a building permit. People who apply are in for a very long, bureaucratic, onerous and expensive process that in the end results in a negative outcome. And thus, anything built is immediately demolished by the Israeli military. It is often the case that instead of building new homes, villagers live together in more of a communal setting. This is not always easy and some homes may inhabit up to 30 people. As one can imagine this is affecting people’s health and their quality of living even further. Quite some families and youth have decided to move to larger areas as the village becomes an unlikely place to make a living as well as to live with some dignity.

As far as the water resources is concerned for the village of Kardala, its water source was redirected, resulting in 5 cubes of water for the entire area. What is more is that one of Kardala’s agricultural spaces was also demolished. The community is now forced to buy water from other villages, such as Jericho and Tubas, and hire water tanks. The villagers in their resilience are building solar systems to be utilized as a source of energy.  

The day was concluded with an interactive opportunity in the cultural center in Kardala. forumZFD and CfP are thankful for the organization of the CfP youth, the opportunity provided by the people of Bardala and Kardala, and also to the diverse crowd that came out in support of this event. As long as there is limited international outcry on issues highlighted in this article, these devastating occurrences will not be halted in any way, and thus it is crucial that the international community demands accountability from the Israeli government.   

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