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The whoosh of wings disturbs the quiet of an abandoned, pitch-black maze of corridors next to the Jordan River in the occupied Palestinian territories.
It is the hallmark of what this former Israeli military outpost on a dusty, yellow marlstone hill in the West Bank has become: a man-made bat cave.
Outpost - Dozen - Mini-fortresses - Hills - Israel-Jordan
The outpost is one of a dozen or so mini-fortresses that were built among the hills above the Israel-Jordan border after the 1967 Six-Day War and abandoned by Israel following a 1994 peace accord between the countries.
It wasn't long before they became full-time bat sanctuaries, helped along by Israeli rangers and ecologists in an effort to help thespecies whose habitats had been reduced.
Israel - Territories - Home - Bat - Species
Israel and the Palestinian territories are home to some 33 bat species, all but one insectivores, which are at global extinction risk—in many cases due to human activity, said Amos Sabah, an ecologist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
In the area dotted with outposts, roadworks and otherdevelopment has damaged natural caves, said Shmulik Yedvab, director of the mammal department at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).
Thinking - Spaces - Outposts - Yedvab
The thinking was to "create alternative spaces" by repurposing the outposts, Yedvab said.
Palestinians see these kinds of projects very differently. They accuse Israel of harming their environment in the Jordan Valley, including through the use of water resources.
Anton - Khalilieh - Director - Nature - Palestine
Anton Khalilieh, executive director of Nature Palestine Society, said while any individual project to protect animals was to be welcomed, this was taking place in the occupied Palestinian territories and could not be divorced from politics.
"If the Israelis are doing any conservation activities to protect animals, in my opinion as a conservationist this is fine," he said.
Jordan - Valley - Part - West - Bank—an
"But this is the Jordan Valley, which is a part of the West Bank—an area that should be under complete Palestinian control.
"So it should be the...
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