Companies trading from Ro'i settlement in the Jordan Valley
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.
Why the only way to trade ethically is to divest from Israel – an update on EDOM and Valley Grown Salads
After Corporate Watch sent an open letter to Valley Grown Salads (VGS), which has a 20% share in the Israeli company EDOM UK, we were immediately contacted by Jimmy Russo – the company’s director who is also the chairman of EDOM. Claiming that we had got our facts wrong, he was eager to dispute our claim that EDOM had been seen packing vegetables in the illegal settlement of Tomer in the Jordan Valley. Expressing concern that his company could become a ‘target’ as a result of any settlement connections, he emphasised that VGS would not trade with growers who used child labour or breached labour regulations and indicated that EDOM and VGS would not trade with the settlements in the future. Through written correspondence and a number of phone calls we have since attempted to get to the truth about EDOM’s business in the settlements and inside Israel, asking Russo to explain the various pieces of evidence that point to exports from Tomer. (more…)
The start of the working day for settlement workers in the Jordan Valley
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 Read more…
Mehadrin's business in Beqa'ot settlement – and Tesco's Complicity
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. (more…)
Agrexco Exporting from Kibbutz 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. (more…)
Dear Corporation – An Open Letter to Valley Grown Salads
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)
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/). (more…)