PA Thieves Drain Jewish Town Dry
by Maayana Miskin
Sixty Jewish families living in the town of Pnei Hever, near Hevron, face a Sabbath without water due to Palestinian Authority water thieves. Officials at Mekorot, Israel's national water company, say they are unable to help.
Pnei Hever and other Jewish towns in the Hevron region have faced daily water theft for some time. PA Arabs drill into water pipes leading to the town every night, stealing an estimated 75% of the towns' water supply.
On Thursday night, PA thieves drilled into the pipes leading to Pnei Hever and rerouted the water supply. Residents of the village woke up Friday morning to find that they had only 10 cubic meters of water to split between hundreds of people.
As Mekorot workers said they could not help, residents turned to the Public Security Ministry and Ministry for National Infrastructure in the hope of getting assistance.
A similar incident took place last Thursday, when residents of Pnei Hever awoke to discover that nearly all of their water had been stolen overnight. Children were forced to go to school or daycare without so much as brushing their teeth or washing their hands.
Yigal Klein, head of the Pnei Hever secretariat, said the water theft phenomenon was a familiar one. A resident recently witnessed an Arab truck driver fiddling with a water pipe near the Jewish town of Susiya, he said. “Many times trucks fill up with water and drive to the [Arab] villages,” he said.
Some of the pipes bringing water to local Jewish villages pass through Arab villages, where residents do what they please with the water supply and the IDF's hands are tied, he said.
Water bills have risen repeatedly in the last few months with a 5% rise to take effect shortly.
"What's most worrisome is that we've been told to prepare for an entire summer like this,” he said. “Our regional council is trying to put pressure on the government ministries, on the Water Authority, on Mekorot, but we're getting the feeling that this is what's been decreed for us and there's nothing to do.”
Thanks to E.T. for both items
No Water Again in Jewish Town Due to Arab Theft
Hebron Region Council Head, Zviki Bar Hai, said in response, "It's time the Defense Minister stopped worrying about easing conditions for the Palestinians, and worried more about supplying water to Jews and stopping its theft by Arabs."
Arabs Steal Water from Beit Hagai, Ma'alei Hever
Water theft in the area is a common phenomenon, residents said. Officials of the town sent an emergency request to Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau to do something to prevent the thefts.
Arabs say Israel drying up regional water reserves
In conference of water minister from Arab states, Jordanian representative accuses Israel of 'stealing water' in West Bank, Lebanon, and Golan; suggests international campaign to clarify Arabs' water rights
It has been said that the next Middle East war will be fought over water. While other reasons for conflict have come up since this sentence was first uttered, the water issue remains a potent one and will likely remain on the agenda for the foreseeable future.
The water shortage in the Middle East is a threat to all the countries in the region. The wealthy states, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, found a solution in investing billions of dollars in water desalination plants.
The Middle East today is responsible for some 75% of the world's water desalination. However, the less wealthy countries in the region, without the deep pockets needed to fund the relatively pricey desalination, are in trouble.
In order to discuss the water crisis, water and irrigation ministers from the Arab states fathered in Cairo. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa also attended the conference. During the panels, an accusatory finger was directed at Israel for drying up its neighbors resources and "stealing Arab water."
In his speech before the conference, Jordanian Water and Irrigation Minister Mohammad Najjar called on his Arab colleagues to join hands and work together to grapple with the Israeli "thefts." According to him, Israel uses 80% of the water from the West Bank and 30% of Lebanon's groundwater. He claimed that Israel is stealing the water via the Golan.
Najjar highlighted the severity of the water situation in the region, noting that 70% of the region's water is not local. He also mentioned that precipitation in the region accounts for just 2% of precipitation in the world. He called upon his colleagues to launch an international campaign clarifying the Arabs' water rights.
The conference took place as assessments indicate rising demand for water in Arab countries in light of the rapid population growth and economic development they are witnessing. Studies published recently in the Arab world indicated that an investment of at least $100-200 billion in the Arab water sector over the next few years is necessary in order to meet t he steadily rising demand.
During regional water conferences held in recent months, experts have demanded that the governments cutback or halt all together their subsidization of water prices in order to decrease water consumption and waste.