Spotlight: Israel denies 19 Palestinian communities in Jordan Valleys of using water

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-29 01:00:43|Editor: yan
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RAMALLAH, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- With sorrow and anger, Harbi Abu Al-Kbash, a resident of the west bank's Jordan Valley, could not access to water due to the closure by Israeli army forces with barbed wires and surveillance cameras, banning Palestinians from using them.

Abu Al-Kbash lives in Homsa community in the Jordan Valley, which is considered a hot point in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Jordan Valley, which covers approximately one third of the West Bank area, is considered highly strategic and fertile area.

Palestinians have repeatedly complained about intensified Israeli settlement activity and land confiscation in hope of applying Israeli sovereignty over it.

Abu Al-Kbash told Xinhua that some 19 Palestinian communities in the area are banned from using water wells by the Israeli army, which is turning their lives to hell.

He explained that he needs about 10 cups of water daily during winter while 14-15 cups during summer.

Abu Al-Kbash's 40-member family earns its living from agriculture and herding, but have recently been forced to plant summer produce that requires less water due to the restrictions.

To reach the closest water source, Abu Al-Kbash needs to walk for about 20 kilometers.

Palestinian officials said that Israel is carrying out wide raids into areas in the Jordan Valley to look for opening in water pipes that lead to settlements or army posts.

Mutaz Besharat, an officer of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) settlement watchdog in the area, told Xinhua that the Israeli army had recently destroyed approximately 3,700 meters of water pipes that channel water to Palestinian farmers, in addition to three water tanks for local communities.

The Israeli army demolished six water collection wells and four kilometers of internal water networks during 2019, Besharat added.

He explained that the PA has decided to cancel land classification that are included in the 1993 Oslo Accords, and is trying to connect water pipes to local communities, "but is facing Israeli rejection and repeated destruction of water pipes."

Palestinians say that Israeli water pipes are placed through their lands, but they are banned from using them.

Besharat explained that Israeli authorities allowed the three communities, namely Kardala, Bardala and Al-Ein Al-Baida in the north of the Jordan Valley, a supply of around 250 cups of water in 1973, after it dug wells that affected the flow of water to their lands.

Since then, Israel had never increased the portion, however, to the contrary, put it down to 220 cups for the three communities, which lead over half of their population to relocate because of the water shortage, he said.

Head of local council of Bedouin communities and the Jordan Valleys Mahdi Daraghmeh told Xinhua that Israel's policy to deny Palestinians water access is pushing Palestinians out of their homelands.

He affirmed that 19 Palestinian communities in the area are denied water, and many have to walk about 20 kilometers to reach a water source and pay a high cost for water tanks, especially during summer.

This policy comes hand in hand with an escalation in settler outpost construction in privately owned Palestinian lands, that are immediately supplied with water and electricity by Israeli authorities, he said.

He pointed out that residents of the area used to rely on water springs, but they dried out due to excessive use, draught and impact of Israeli water company usage.

The 1,622-square-kilometers Jordan valley constitutes 28 percent of the area of the West Bank and is home to nearly 50 thousand Palestinians, including the population of Jericho city, which is two percent of the Palestinian population, according to official data.

The data shows that 31 Jewish-only settlements are built in the Jordan Valley, most of which are agriculture based, and resided by some 8,000 settlers.

Since its occupation in 1967, Israel set up some 90 military posts in the area and forcefully evicted around 50,000 Palestinians.

Palestinians consider the Jordan Valley, which is located in the east of the West Bank on the borders with Jordan, a vital and integral part of their future state for its strategic location and fertile lands.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently voiced his intention to impose Israeli sovereignty over the area for security concerns in the long run.