Gaza, hypocrisy, normalisation: Why are activists blocking 'treasonous' Jordan-Israel bridge?

Why are activists blocking "treasonous" Jordan-Israel bridge?
4 min read
Jordan - Amman
26 February, 2024

Over the past two weeks, thousands of pro-Palestinian activists in Jordan have gathered at the Sheikh Hussain Bridge to protest the transportation of Israel-bound goods along the Dubai-Haifa land corridor

Marching under the slogan "The land bridge is treason", activists have formed human chains across the bridge, demanding that the route instead provide relief to the Palestinians in Gaza. 

In response, thousands of pro-Palestinian supporters have marched across cities in Jordan, organised by the National Forum to Support the Resistance — an alliance of opposition parties, unions, and independent figures.

They called on the Jordanian government to sever all ties with the Israeli government and back out of the Wadi Araba agreement, the water-for-energy deal, the gas deal, and stop the exporting of Jordanian goods to Israel. 

"The bridge is a disgrace, it must stop. Food must not pass through Jordan to the Israeli occupation at a time when the Palestinian people in Gaza are starving to death"

Majd Farraj, a member of the left-wing Popular Unity Party, explained to The New Arab the importance of marching.

"While the Houthis imposed a siege [on Israel] in the Red Sea, Jordan opened up a bridge. Why aren't we providing relief to Gaza? We're marching to reject normalisation with Israel, to reject the American military bases in Jordan. We want to convey to the Jordanian government that its press releases don't align with its actions."

As Majd spoke to The New Arab, protestors outside the American embassy in Amman chanted, "Normalisation is treason...Oh government, how are things? Make a bridge for Gaza, not for the occupation...The land bridge is the greatest shame! No embassies for the Israeli occupation...No American bases on Jordanian soil."

Speaking to The New Arab, Murad Al-Adaileh, Secretary-General of the Islamic Action Front Party, said Jordan's involvement with Israel is shameful.

"The Israeli occupation has assaulted Gaza and imposed a siege across the land to accelerate its ethnic cleansing. We say to the Jordanian people, let's share our food with Gaza," Murad exclaimed.

"This land bridge, the bridge of's a shame! You [the Jordanian government] have distorted the image of Jordanians. The bridge is a disgrace, it must stop. Food must not pass through Jordan to the Israeli occupation at a time when the Palestinian people in Gaza are starving to death."

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The protests come after the Israeli Channel 13 published on January 31 a report which included interviews with truck drivers coming from the UAE carrying various goods to Israel, including vegetables and fruits, through Saudi Arabia and Jordan, breaking the blockade of Israeli ports by the Houthis.

Citing official data from Israel's Ministry of Agriculture, an investigation from Arabi Post also revealed that Jordan and Turkey are the countries that exported the most fruits and vegetables to Israel from October 7 2023 to February 11 2024, totalling 55% of the total fruits and vegetables that the Israelis imported globally. 

Jordan's government plays blind, denies bridge

Responding to the claim, a source in the Jordanian government told The New Arab that Jordan doesn't transport to Israel. "There is absolutely no truth in such claims," they said.

On Sunday 25 Feburary, Jordan's Prime Minister, Bisher Al-Khasawneh also addressed the claims. "There is no land bridge as rumoured," Al-Khasawneh stated, adding, "We will not remain silent regarding fabricated stories against Jordan. There is no land bridge and the transportation system in Jordan has not changed for over 25 years. No country provides political support to Gaza like Jordan does."

Jordanians have accused its government of treason, shame, and disgrace [photo credit: Mohammad Ersan/The New Arab]
Jordanians have accused its government of treason, shame, and disgrace for its role in transporting goods to Israel [photo credit: Mohammad Ersan/The New Arab]

However, Jordanian MP Saleh Al-Armouti believes that the land bridge between Jordan and Israel does exist but under the name "transit agreement for transporting goods".

Saleh Al-Armouti questions the Jordanian government's decision: "Why does Jordan continue to uphold agreements with the Israeli occupation at a time when the Israeli occupation doesn't listen or uphold any of our agreements and commits genocide against the people of Gaza."

Another Jordanian MP, Yanal Fraihat, shares a similar sentiment. "Every day, 150 trucks loaded with goods enter Israel via the Jordanian, Emirati, and Saudi land bridge," he told The New Arab. "The Jordanian government can restrict this. Why are we continuing to do so? The bridge is not supposed to be for the Israeli settlers, but for our people who are besieged in Gaza. 

Jordan as a broker

Suleiman Al-Hayari, head of the Jordanian Union Cooperative Society for Agricultural Products Exporters, revealed to The New Arab that the export of vegetables to Israel comes through brokers who buy vegetables from farmers in the central Al-Arda market in Jordan. Farmers sell their vegetables to brokers who in turn sell them to third-party Israeli companies, all without the farmer's knowledge. 

Despite denial from the Jordanian government, Israeli accounts on social media have published pictures of boxes containing Jordanian fruits and vegetables in Israeli markets. Exported Jordanian goods include various types of vegetables, especially cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini. 

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In a press statement, Jordanian Minister of Agriculture Khaled Hanifat attacked Jordanian farmers who export their products to Israel. "There is no legal mechanism that prevents farmers and merchants from exporting to Israel," he said. "But under these circumstances, you should be a little embarrassed."

Mohammad Ersan is a freelance journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Radio Al-Balad and His work has been published in Al-Monitor and Middle East Eye.

Follow him on X: @JournalistErsan