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Israeli Settlers Stealing Essential Water from Palestinians, UN Reports

'Intimidation, threats and violence' used to control water in West Bank

Common Dreams staff

The UN's Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has released a report showing that Israeli settlers in the West bank have taken over dozens of natural springs from Palestinians there, preventing access to essential water sources.

The report shows that Palestinians are kept from accessing the springs by acts of "intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers".

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Settlers Taking Over Palestinian Springs: UN report (Agence France-Presse):

The report said an OCHA survey carried out in 2011 identified a total of 56 springs that were under total or partial control of Israeli settlers, most in the part of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and military control.

"Springs have remained the single largest water source for irrigation and a significant source for watering livestock" for Palestinians, OCHA said, noting that some springs also provide water for domestic consumption.

"The loss of access to springs and adjacent land reduced the income of affected farmers, who either stop cultivating the land or face a reduction in the productivity of their crops."

The report said in most cases where settlers were trying to limit Palestinian access to springs, they have undertaken to turn the area into a tourist attraction, constructing pools, picnic areas and signs carrying a Hebrew name for the spring. [...]

OCHA said the takeover of springs was an extension of settlement activity in the West Bank, which it pointed out is illegal under international law.

And it added that settler actions including "trespass, intimidation and physical assault, stealing of private property, and construction without a building permit," are also violations of Israeli law.

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Settlers Grab Palestinian Water Wprings: U.N. Report (Reuters):

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it had surveyed 530 springs in the West Bank and found that 30, mostly in areas where Israel retains military control, were taken over by the settlers.

It added that Palestinians currently had limited access to 26 other springs where settlers had moved in and threatened to take control. [...]

"The loss of access to springs and adjacent land reduced the income of affected farmers, who either stop cultivating the land or face a reduction in the productivity of their crops," the report said. [...]

"Settlers have developed 40 springs as tourist sites, deployed picnic tables and benches and given them Hebrew names ... It is generating employment and revenue for the settlements and it is a way of promoting or advertising settlements as a fun place," OCHA researcher Yehezkel Lein said. [...]

In 2009 a spring named Ein el Qaws, located near the village of Nabi Saleh, was taken over by settlers from Halamish, forcing villagers to obtain their irrigation water from other sources, the report and residents said.

"The spring was used to irrigate hundreds of olive and fruit trees in the village and the children used to swim in it, now if we try to go to the spring, the settlers and soldiers come and kick us out," said villager Nariman Tamimi.

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