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Joint talk by Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity and Corporate Watch

view at http://www.inminds.com/article.php?id=10503

Demolitions using Volvo machinery in the Jordan Valley village of Abu al Ajaj- Photos from Jordan Valley Solidairty

Volvo machinery was used to demolish houses of bedouin in the Palestinian village of Abu al Ajaj on Wednesday 24th November 2010. The same week a wave of demolitions occurred across the West Bank and Israel, including the demolition of the village of Al Araqib in the Naqab (Negev).

Abu al Ajaj is situated in the Al Jiftlik area of the Jordan Valley, in the Israeli occupied West Bank, next to the Israeli colony of Massua. At 5am two Volvo bulldozers and 200 soldiers raided and demolished one house and three animal shelters in the Abu al Ajaj. Three tin buildings and one tent were also destroyed, two men were arrested and several injured. Several baby goats were killed and many were injured in the destruction. The estimated cost of the damage stands at around 120,000 NIS.[2]

Goats killed during demolitions in Abu al Ajaj

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Impertec Supergum in Maale Efraim

Impertec/Supergum Industries - One of the companies in Ma’ale Efraim is Impertec ‘Supergum’.

Impertec is part of the ‘Supergum Group’. Impertec and Supergum are sister companies with the same owners.  Impertec manufactures gas masks, riot gear and rubber extrusions. Supergum manufacture rubber, plastic and sealing products. Both product ranges have military applications Read the rest of this entry »

Corporate Watch visited the Ma’ale Efraim industrial zone during May 2010. Ma’ale Efraim is the only industrial zone in the Jordan Valley, situated on the road to Nablus. The industrial area is attached to the settlement of Ma’ale Efraim, an illegal settlement home to 1641 colonisers.

Ma’ale Efraim was established as a military  settlement in 1978 on land seized by military order. The settlement was civilianized in 1979 and further land was seized as ‘state’ land. To the West of the settlement is an IDF military base.

Ma’ale Efraim industrial zone is largely dormant, a holding exercise to monopolise the land. Many of the factory buildings are empty. However a few Palestinian workers were working in the warehouses.

Sign at the entrance to Maale Efraim Industrial Zone

The above sign shows some of the businesses and type of business working in Maale Efraim:

“Maale Efrayim Industrial Zone,
1 –  Administration, Fior, Karabian Woodshop, Ami Koren – Food Marketing, Raphi Cohen, Fuller Strapping Products, Avia Printing, Radio Mars, Peer Israel
2 Brom, GBIG, Aqua Print
3 Jordan Valley Productions, Steel Mills, B. erushalmi, SuperGum, Center Gas, Metuman 2000, Tel Bar
4 Faber Bros, Cactus Plantation
also - Meir Moving, General and Crane Haulage, Apartment Removals, Moran Professional Cleaning Equipment” 

The logos displayed in the middle section read – “Maale Efrayim and Jordan Valley Industrial Area Administration, State of Israel, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Jewish Agency Settlement Department, Maale Efrayim Local Council, Jordan Valley Regional Council”

Impertec Supergum in Maale Efraim

Moran Professional Cleaning Equipment van in Maale Efraim settlement industrial zone

The agricultural area of Argaman settlement

Argaman is a Jordan Valley settlement off route 90, the road running North from Jericho, through the valley to the Galilee. It was established in 1968 on land seized by military order after the occupation and forced expulsions of 1967. The building was done under the auspices of the World Zionist Organisation.[1] The settlement spans almost 9500 dunums and houses around 175 Israeli settlers in a fenced residential settlement. The majority of Argaman is reserved for its agricultural area.

Fittingly, the settlement is named after two soldiers who died during Israel’s brutal conquest of the valley.

Argaman is close to the Palestinian village of Zubeidat. Zubeidat was classified Area B during the Oslo accords, technically meaning that there is joint Israeli and Palestinian control. In reality, although the village is better off than neighbouring area C villages, the classification stunts the natural growth of the village by placing a rigid border on the built up area. Read the rest of this entry »

A South African fruit grower is selling dates to an Israeli settler company.

Since writing about Hadiklaim’s business in the Jordan Valley, Corporate Watch has been overwhelmed by questions about boxes of Hadiklaim dates labelled ‘Produce of South Africa’. These dates are sold to Hadiklaim by Karsten Farms, a South African fruit growing group, and then packaged under the Jordan River or Kalahari brandnames and exported to Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Hadiklaim is an Israeli date growers cooperative which deals with several major supermarkets in the UK, including Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose (although the Co Op and Marks and Spencer maintain that they only stock Hadiklaim products from 1948 Israel). The company boasts that it exports to 30 countries (see http://www.hadiklaim.com/company_customers.asp). Tesco and Marks and Spencer branded dates are Hadiklaim produce.

The Hadiklaim cooperative includes date growers from 1948 Israel, mostly the South, and from the settlements in the occupied Jordan Valley. Hadiklaim’s website portrays the company as one which deals only with 1948 Israel; listing growers in Beit Shean, the Kinneret, the Arava, Eilat and (ambiguosly)’the Dead Sea region’. However, the company also exports from the Israels settlements in the Jordan Valley. Hadiklaim’s statements in the Israeli Hebrew language media are markedly different – the companies CEO has stated in YNet that the occupied Jordan Valley is an important area for Hadiklaim. Read the rest of this entry »

JNF sign of of land reclamation in the Jordan Valley

If you are a follower of this blog you will have read a lot about the Jordan Valley -an area that comprises almost 30% of the West Bank. Because of its fertile land and border with Jordan, it is under urgent threat of annexation by Israel, who are issuing statements about their claim to the land with alarming frequency. In March this year Benjamin Netanyahu officially announced that “Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley” and since then the Palestinians there have been met with increasing repression. Only during the last few weeks, the Israeli Occupation Forces entered the Palestinian village of Al Farisiya and demolished 23 houses, leaving over 100 people homeless. When the villagers rebuild some of the destroyed structures the army returned to the area and yet again razed it to the ground

44% of the land in the Jordan Valley is controlled by closed military zones and 50% by the 37 illegal settlements -leaving the indigenous Palestinian population in control of a mere 6% of their land. Around 7000 illegal Israeli settlers and 50.000 Palestinians live in the parts of the valley which are on the Palestinian side of the Green Line. An uninformed visitor could be forgiven for thinking that the numbers were reversed; It is entirely possible to take a bus straight from inside Israel and along the Israeli controlled Road 90 through the valley, seeing only settler greenhouses with their lush, irrigated crops. This is a façade that Israel work cold-heartedly to promote.

Zionist information point for tourists

Visiting the Jordan Valley Meeting Point – an Israeli run rest stop and tourist centre along Road 90- is a disturbing and slightly surreal experience for anybody who knows what the real Jordan Valley, and life for its Palestinian communities, is like. Entering the meeting point area feels like joining some ethnically cleansed zone in a Zionist alternative universe, as everything Palestinian has been removed from view. Any tourist, or conscripted Israeli teenage soldier, stopping off there for a Coke and falafel will be presented with a version of the truth designed to brainwash them and airbrush anything Palestinian from the valley. The information points provided describe historical and archaeological sites, attractions and tour routes, state of the art agricultural technologies and Israel’s “battle legacies” in the area. Inviting tourists to join settler organised Jeep trips and walking tours, they highlight the possibilities to follow migrating birds and appreciate blossoming wild flowers in a stunning landscape. What they fail to mention, however, is that no Palestinian has the freedom to enjoy any of these things as all their villages are surrounded by closed military zones and they are prevented from taking a step out of line. Read the rest of this entry »

Greenhouses in Ro'i illegal settlement

As part of Corporate Watch’s efforts to map settlement exports from the Jordan Valley, we visited the illegal Israeli settlement of Ro’i earlier this year.

Established in 1976, Ro’i is a “typical” Jordan Valley settlement in that it has a low population (of less than 150 settlers), but has stolen large areas of land from the indigenous Palestinian population. With its private security, army protection and rows upon rows of greenhouses, Ro’i poses a challenge to the existence of Bedouin communities such as nearby Al Hadidya and Ras-Al Ahmar, who are under constant threat of house demolitions and army harassment aimed at the  ethnic cleansing of bedouin from the area. The Israeli’s described these communities as a “security threat” to the settlers.

Al Hadidya is located just next to Ro’i, which was partially built on their land, and inhabitants have to more or less drive through the the outskirts of the settlement in order to reach their home. Any company trading from Ro’i, or importing their produce, are directly responsible for the very real possibility of Al Hadidya’s forced extinction.

Al Hadidya's - in the shadow of Ro'i settlement

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Inside the Tovlan landfill

Video of work continuing at the Tovlan site here

As Corporate Watch has previously reported (see http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/veolia-taking-out-israels-trash/ and http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/veolias-dirty-business-the-tovlan-landfill/) Veolia run the Tovlan landfill site in the Occupied Jordan Valley as well as provide rubbish collection services to numerous settlements in the area. Whilst the company’s involvement in the East Jerusalem tram line project has gained world wide infamy, their operations in the Jordan Valley have as yet not got them into as much trouble. However, their very direct support of the settlement infrastructure in one of the most vulnerable areas of Palestine prove that they are more than willing to profit from Israel’s brutal occupation as long as they can get away with it. In recent correspondence with critics of their conduct Veolia have downplayed their business in the Jordan Valley, claiming that their site there is no longer operating. On a recent trip there Corporate Watch decided to pay them another visit to see if we could prove them wrong…

ONXY sign at Tovlan entrance

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Almost every morning, between 3 and 4am, hundreds of workers from outside the Jordan Valley, from towns as far away as Nablus and even Jenin, queue at Al Hamra checkpoint, sometimes for hours, to get to work at the Israeli settlements in the valley. Often workers arrive too early, for fear of losing their job if the delays are bad, and sleep in the fields on the other side of the checkpoint.

Palestinian workers on Israeli settlements are routinely paid below minimum wage.

The settler bosses are seldom seen before the more civilised time of 9am.

Workers often encounter repression at Al Hamra checkpoint. Corporate Watch has heard reports and witnessed Palestinians being bodysearched, stripsearched or forced to wear blindfold while soldiers check IDs. Travellers are often subjected to insults and abuse by soldiers at Al Hamra.

Workers on their journey to work near Al Hamra

Al Hamra checkpoint

Al Hamra checkpooint

Al Hamra

Settler greenhouses in Beqa'ot

Beqa’ot is an illegal settlement located in the Jordan Valley. Established in 1972, it is agriculturally focused and controls around 1800 dunums of land which were stolen from surrounding Palestinian areas, such as the Bedouin community of Al Hadidya. Beqa’ot is a grower for the Israeli company Mehadrin Tnuport Export (MTEX), a part of the huge Mehadrin Group which also owns 50% of STM Agricultural Exports Ltd -another Israeli company dealing in vegetables. MTEX export around 70% of all their produce to outside Israel and are one of the largest suppliers for the Jaffa brand world wide. According to Palestinian workers in the settlement, Mehadrin has had a monopoly on exports from there for around two years. Before that they also used to work with Carmel Agrexco. Some Arava boxes were also spotted inside the settlement packing area. Read the rest of this entry »

Construction Sign outside Kibbutz Kalia

Several companies were advertising construction work at the settlement of Kibbutz Kalia when Corporate Watch visited in April.  At the gate to Kalia half finished homes can be seen, along with a sign for the Evelon (www.evelon.com) Real Estate Company. The ‘luxury villa project, dubbed “Qalya Vistas, The Cherry of the Dead Sea”, advertises 54 new housing units. The executing contractor is named as Ts. P Construction and ‘management and supervision’ by Peled Klein Civil Engineering (www.peled-klein.co.il) in Yoqne’am Illit (more about Peled Klein at http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=566).

Evelon seems be aimed at US buyers, a special drop down menu on their site allows customers to select the US state they live in.

The half finished buildings in Kalia

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Agrexco's Packing House near Kalia

Corporate Watch paid a visit to Agrexco’s packing house on the land of the illegal settlement of Kibbutz Kalia, on the Northern Coast of the Dead Sea, during April 2010. The packing house is next to fields of date palms. Thai migrant workers could be seen tending to the palms from cherypickers. Inside the packing house herbs were being packed into boxes marked ‘Carmel ECOFRESH: Produce of Kibbutz Kalia, USA’. ECOFRESH is one of Agrexco’s newer brands which is supposed to represent better food quality (see, for example, http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/articles.aspx?page=articles&ID=52941). Workers inside told us that the herbs were being exported to the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Settler caravan in maskiot sponsored by the 'One Israel Fund'

Big corporations are not alone in implementing the Israeli occupation on the ground. Especially in the smaller settlements which do not yet have any industry or commercial outlets, ideological charities and religious groups play a crucial role when it comes to encouraging settlement expansion. This is the case with Maskiot, the first new settlement to be approved in the West Bank for a decade when it was officially established in the middle of 2008.

Located in the Jordan Valley, an area under heavy threat of Israeli annexation, (See, for example, http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3403 ) Maskiot is strongly Zionist and inhabited by ex-Gaza settlers determined to continue to steal Palestinian land and ‘repopulate’ the Valley with Jews.  In other words, ethnically cleanse the area of Palestinians.  Last week (Sunday the 28thof April), as a clear provocation, armed settlers from Maskiot entered the Bedouin area of Al Maleh and set up a tent only ten meters from the community, preventing the people there from accessing some of their land (see http://www.brightonpalestine.org/node/618). This act follows numerous acts of aggression against the people of Al Maleh during the last few years. The settlers are helped in these pursuits by their supporters. In the case of Maskiot this means The One Israel Fund and Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, who have both contributed to Maskiot’s development. Read the rest of this entry »

Tourist a Kalia beach in the Israeli occupied West Bank

Kibbutz Kalia is an illegal Israeli settlement on the North coast of the Dead Sea. It offers bed and breakfast and a private beach and is attempting to tap in on the steady flow of tourists to the area.

Visitors to the area could be forgiven for not realising that Kibbutz Kalia lies in occupied territory. Its a straight drive along route 90 which bypasses Palestinian communities almost entirely. The North coast of the Dead Sea, although only a few kilometres from Jericho, is completely devoid of Palestinian areas and, only when you go inside Carmel Agrexco date packing houses will you see Palestinians. Visible workers on Kibbutz Kalia’s settlement farms are Thai migrants.

Thai migrant workers picking dates in fields belonging to Kibbutz Kalia

Kalia advertises rooms at its guesthouse on a number of websites including http://www.booking.com, http://www.venere.com, http://www.agoda.com, http://www.travelbyclick.net and http://www.webtourist.net. None of these websites make clear that Kalya is in occupied Palestine or that it is an illegal Israeli settlement. Read the rest of this entry »

UPDATE (12/05/10) – Valley Grown Salads and EDOM have replied to this letter claiming that the packing house in Tomer belongs not to them but to a grower that they have worked with in the past. They say that this grower is not part of their ‘supply base’ any more although they have  ‘purchased from him’ on one occassion this season. EDOM claim that they have instructed the grower to take down the EDOM sign at the packing house in Tomer.

More updates soon.

An open Letter to Valley Grown Salads (www.v-g-s.co.uk)

Truck marked EDOM UK in Tomer

To Whom it may Concern

I am writing to you from Corporate Watch (www.corporatewatch.org). Corporate Watch has, recently, been undertaking research in Palestine and has noted, with concern, that EDOM UK, an Israeli company in which your company holds a 20% share, operate a packing house in the illegal settlement of Tomer (pictures at http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/uk-company-exporting-from-jordan-valley-settlements/). Read the rest of this entry »

Despite the fact that there is -as demonstrated by this web-site- clearly a lot of more work to be done for people campaigning for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, a recent visit to the Jordan Valley confirmed that there are plenty of reasons for the BDS movement to take stock of its successes. Read the rest of this entry »

Date Palms near Gilgal settlement

Netiv Hagdud and Gilgal are two illegal Israeli settlements set back from Route 90 South of Fasayil and Tomer in the occupied Jordan Valley. Between the two settlements is a fenced agricultural area which exports fruit and vegetables internationally. Produce in Waitrose has previously been seen bearing the label ‘Netiv Hagdud’. In March Corporate Watch paid the two settlements a visit. Read the rest of this entry »

TDP Export sign in Tomer

Tomer is an illegal Israeli settlement of nearly 300 people close to the Palestinian community of Fasayil. It employs Palestinian and Thai workers, the bosses are Israeli. Tomer was established in 1976 on the lands of the people of Fasayil, Al Auja and other nearby Palestinian communities.

Some companies working inside Tomer:

TBP Export - http://www.tbp-export.com – Have a packing house in Tomer. They are, according to their website, an international marketing company for fresh produce set up by two Israeli agricultural companies, Mor-Li and Bar-Mor. Despite basing its packing house on an illegal settlement TBP export boasts that it is certified by EUREPGAP, an international certifier of  “good agricultural practice”. They are also approved to British Retail Consortium (BRC) standards, suggesting they are marketing their goods in Britain. The company advertise potatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, peppers, herbs and organic products. TBP list many locations where they source their produce, although not the Jordan Valley. TBP does list Beit Shean and the Arava as two of their growing areas, the areas directly North and South of the valley. TBP’s contact address is in Ein Vered near Israel’s South Coast. TBP use the brandname ‘Rimon’, Corporate Watchers saw a truck emblazoned with this logo picking up produce from Tomer.

Carmel Agrexco – http://www.agrexco.co.il – Agrexco has several packing houses in Tomer and several Agrexco vans could be seen visiting the settlement every day.  Agrexco are the largest agricultural company operating in the Jordan Valley and use the brandnames Carmel, Jaffa, Biotop, Coral, Jordan Plains, Alesia and Ecofresh. Agrexco subsidiaries include Agrexco (France), Agrexco (US), Carmexco (Italy), Eclectic, Carmel Cor, LACHS, Dalia (Germany). Agrexco have a regional office in the occupied Jordan Valley, at the Arovot HaYarden Regional Council, and are building a new refrigeration centre there. The company operates packing houses in most of the Jordan Valley settlements including Netiv Hagdud, Ro’i, Argaman, Mehola and Bet HaArava .

There has been a long running direct action campaign against Carmel Agreco in the UK (See http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/actions/2008/carmelagrexco/).  Activists have repeatedly shut down Agrexco’s depot in Hayes, Middlesex, with blockades and occuptions. In 2006 a case against campaigners who had blockaded the company’s premises was dropped after the defendants had obtained disclosure from the company of its business in the occupied territories. The managing director, Amos Orr, stated in court that 60-70% of all produce from the West Bank was exported through Agrexco.

Carmel’s site boasts that they have branches in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Rotterdam, New York, Zurich, Vienna, Madrid and Milan. Several interviews with Carmel workers in the Jordan Valley by Corporate Watch and the Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group (www.brightonpalestine.org) have found that workers picking fruit and vegetables for the company in the occupied Jordan Valley are paid 70 – 75 shekels (about 13 pounds), less than half the Israeli minimum wage.

Nirav – http://www.nirav.co.ilMarketing company for greenhouses, sheds etc.

EDOM – http://www.edom.co.ilA partially British owned company. More info at http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/further-information-about-edom-uk-signs-of-more-mislabelling/. Read the rest of this entry »

Arava Export Packing House in Tomer

Arava – http://www.arv.co.ilArava Export Growers is the third largest agricultural export company in Israel, with export sales of about € 60 million. It is 50% owned by B. Gaon Holdings and 50% by farmers in the Arava region of Israel. Arava advertise that their products comply to organic EUREGAP and British Retail Consortium Standards, suggesting a focus on exports to Europe. Arava have a sales office in the UK run by Mill Associates. Arava have subsidiaries in the US and Holland with head offices in New York and Bleiswijk respectively.

Existing Jordan Plains packing house next to the new structure

Last week Corporate Watch revisited the building site for a new packing house on the land of the Arovot HaYarden Regional Council close to Massua settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley. Workers at the site confirmed that the building will be a new date refrigeration house for Jordan Plains. Jordan Plains is a company exporting through Carmel Agrexco.

The construction of the new packing house, on illegally occupied territory, suggests that Agrexco and Jordan Plains intend to extend their export capacity for dates. Palestinians in the area are unable to build any permanent structures at all due to military restrictions, let alone one on this scale. Read the rest of this entry »

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