Settlers destroy natural spring used by Palestinians for farming near Salfit
International Solidarity Movement 8 March 2010
A group of Israeli settlers today destroyed a spring by the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the Salfit district. The settlers poured sand and cement into the spring, guarded by five armed members of the Israeli military.
Palestinians from the village were forced to watch helplessly as events unfolded, prevented by the soldiers from moving close to the spring or from filming what was happening. International Solidarity Movement volunteers were able to secretly film for a short time before the soldiers noticed, and made both Palestinians and Internationals leave, saying that the area was now designated as a Closed Military Zone.
Last Friday, a group of Palestinians and internationals spent the day clearing the area around the spring to make it more accessible from the village. This followed previous attacks from settlers on nearby springs and farmland, during which a child suffered serious head wounds, from which he is still recovering in hospital, and an elderly man had his arm and leg broken.
Locals intend to continue their attempts to keep the spring open, and to turn the area around it into a park for the use of the village.
Under international law, the settlement next to Qarawat Bani Hassan is illegal, as are all other settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Comment: To put this shocking news story in some context read this excerpt from a December 2009 speech by Omar Barghouti (PACBI) referring to a recent report by Amnesty on water and its denial used as a weapon by Israel to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its people:
In the water report that Amnesty has issued it has said that Israelis on average use 4 times as much water as the Palestinians, in some areas the settlers use 20 times as much as the Palestinians in their immediate vicinity.
180,000 to 200,000 Palestinians are denied access to running water completely - they only get water by buying it, and buying it is getting much more expensive because with the checkpoints, roadblocks and so on its become much more difficult to deliver water. Some families according to Amnesty are spending 25% of their income on drinking water, 25% - imagine it in your income and then you figure it out.
But in Gaza its the worst, in Gaza 90-95% of the water supply has been contaminated, there is no good drinking water in Gaza, you can only drink contaminated water unless you are rich enough to buy the bottled water 'smuggled' through the tunnels.
Another aspect that Amnesty talks about in its report is ethnic cleansing, they don't mention the word 'ethnic cleansing' but they say Israel is deliberately denying access to water in so-called area C. The West Bank is divided in to areas A, B and C. C is under full Israeli control and it happens that 60% of the land of the West Bank is in area C. Most of the water resources are in area C, pure luck. And Israel completely controls that and Palestinians are not allowed access to water there in order to push Palestinians out of area C, where their land and water reserves are. So even Amnesty has reached the conclusion that this is a deliberate policy meant to expel the Palestinians out of those areas. This a very serious accusation from an organisation like Amnesty.
One quote in the Amnesty report by a Palestinian villager in Sousia, near Khalil (Hebron), she says 'water is life, without water we cannot live, not us, not the animals, not the plants. Before we had some water, but after the army destroyed everything, we have to bring water from far away - its very difficult and expensive. They make our life very difficult to make us leave.' Precisely, the only point is to make them leave.
"There is a thing called the EU-Israel Association Agreement. That agreement means that Israeli goods get preferential access to EU markets, and that agreement has a human rights clause, and that human rights clause says that in the event of human rights abuses on either side the agreement shall be suspended. So our question to our government today should be this - how many human rights abuses do you need? How many women dying in child birth, because they can't pass the checkpoints through the Israeli authorities, do you need?"