by Hana Namrouqa | Apr 30, 2015
AMMAN — The Jordan Valley Farmers Union is arranging to file a lawsuit against Israel at international courts for the recurring fires that erupt on the Israeli-Jordanian borderline and damage thousands of agricultural lands annually, JVFU President Adnan Khaddam said Wednesday.

Farmers who own lands adjacent to the border incur each year huge losses as their trees, crops and infrastructure are burned in fires that start in Israel and spread to the Kingdom, Khaddam said.

He noted that fires start during this time of year and continue recurring until the end of summer, charging that Israel “deliberately” starts the fires to get rid of the dry grass that grows on the border for security reasons.

“The fires are increasing every year and there is nothing stopping Israel from starting the fires without taking precautionary measures that prevent flames from reaching the Jordanian side,” Khaddam told The Jordan Times.

The first fire of the season erupted last Sunday night in Wadi Al Rayyan in the Central Jordan Valley, according to Khaddam, who said the flames raged again on Monday.

“The JVFU is preparing the lawsuit documents via local lawyers and the Arab Lawyers Union. We will take the lawsuit to international courts because if we remain silent, these violations will never end.”

He noted that the union will demand that Israel compensate farmers for the fires that erupted over the past years and oblige it to apply precautionary measures that prevent fires from reaching Jordanian lands.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Ministry’s Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin urged farmers to start removing dry grass from their farms to prevent fires from spreading or erupting.

“Farmers, particularly those who own lands adjacent to the Jordan River, are requested to remove all dry grass to protect their farms from fires, especially as temperatures are rising,” Haddadin said.

The official said the number of fires in the Jordan Valley has dropped as farmers started following the ministry’s instructions in removing dry grass.

In July 2012, the government demanded that Israel compensate Jordanian farmers for losses incurred in a fire that started in Israel and spread to the Kingdom.

The fire, which erupted on July 5 that year, damaged over 250 dunums of land and burned thousands of trees and wild plants in the Jordan Valley’s Adasiyeh District.

Five farms were damaged by the fire, which partially or completely burned dozens of mature citrus, guava and olive trees, some as old as 20 years, in addition to farm equipment.

In 2010, local authorities paved a side road on the east bank of the Jordan River as a firebreak. The measure aimed at preventing fires that erupt every summer in the border area.

A firebreak is a gap in vegetation that acts as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of a bushfire or wildfire, according to web sources.