No water in Huwwara and 5 villages every evening for 9 hours: a “Mekorot” worker moves to a settlement, finds a new occupation. Bored in the evening, he walks out to close the main water valve in Huwwara, then returns to open it in the morning. Cooking? Hygiene? Laundry? Drinking water after a day’s fast? Are these basic needs at all important?
On Friday afternoon, before ushering in the holy Sabbath with prayers and Kiddush, uninvited male settlers perform from 3-5 pm in Huwwara ’s main square, dancing and singing. Duly chaperoned by the Army and the Border police. Unchaperoned and silent some weeks ago, Itamar pregnant wives parade themselves and their babies for 2 hours.
Do settlers stay up at night inventing these new entertainments?
Huwwara . Neighbouring settlements: Issachar; Itamar.
SETTLERS’ HARASSMENT. Having heard the media report that an incident with settlers connected with Palestinian stone throwing occurred last Friday the 17.06, we came to Huwwara to check this out. We compiled the information below from two sources—(1) a fruit shop owner and (2) a worker at the Baladia (town council).
Signs of the month-long Ramadan fast are visible: cooked food shops—the falaffel stand, pastry shops and restaurants—are not open for business, their doors shuttered; the usually busy main street was quieter. Housewives, however, must cook the evening meal; so some shops are open. We entered one, whose vendor at first answers us in Hebrew, but on hearing Nadim, reverts to Arabic. He tells us that his fruit, vegetables, honey and oil are all locally grown; but there is no Palestinian paper factory, so he buys carton boxes in Israel (leaving the Hebrew labels), and sells some of them.
Last Friday afternoon, he says, a fleet of cars arrived: 10 cars—carrying some 20-30 settlers—chaperoned by border police cars, and Army jeeps. (For, as we later heard at the council, 1 or 2 military jeeps are always around). All these vehicles blocked the main road of this busy town, interfering with its traffic. Out of the cars popped some 30 male settlers—uninvited “visitors” who proceeded to dance and sing in the square, from 3 to 5 pm, presumably to “entertain” the residents. But the Palestinians were not amused; wisely, they preferred not to react nor to approach these uninvited people. If they came, as they apparently claimed, in response to stone throwing, the two local people with whom we spoke, both assert that there have been no such incidents lately. After two hours, having used up their energy, or perhaps bored, the boisterous settlers left with their 10 cars and their chaperons.
Though these settlers perhaps deliberately chose the Ramadan for their unwelcome performance, it was not the first such visit. On the Itamar road, some time ago, an even more striking group had appeared: visibly pregnant women settlers—perhaps their wives—some pushing baby carriages. This silent baby parade lasted about 2 hours.
ARMY PRESENCE. One or two military jeeps have always been there, says our host at the council but for a month now they have been passing through more often. This has been so since the year-long repairs of the main street (which has 2 lanes now) ended recently. This daily military surveillance, he says, is a collective punishment for stone throwing. But, according to him and the shopkeeper, the Army and the settlements both wrongly claim that the residents throw stones. They do not, he insists. And, he goes on, “the soldiers proved this recently. Stationing themselves on the roofs of some 10 buildings, they observed for two weeks, till 2 days ago, life on the street below. So,” our host concludes with some logic, “if the soldiers didn’t report any stone throwing, this just proves there wasn’t any.”
And yet, the Army yesterday placed a fence on the main street.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS. On Thursday evening, they closed all exits; as Nadim explains, these are on internal streets. So, travellers to Huwwara must now go via Hodela on the Awarta road; which means an extra 20-30 minutes detour. This is still the case today.
A potentially more serious delay, Aliyah was told, occurred when a young woman from a village in the area, was taking her accidentally wounded 9 year-old son to Nablus Hospital. The car they were traveling in, driven by a neighbour, was not allowed to pass through the Tapuach Junction, which was blocked by the Army (and opened 2 hours later). The soldier guards refused to allow the car through even for this urgent trip. They were forced to go back to the local clinic, where in the absence of a doctor, the boy was attended by a paramedic. The next day, the road was open, so they finally took him to Nablus Hospital. Luckily this ended well: the boy has now recovered.
WATER SHORTAGE. A new twist.
For the past month, they haven’t had any water in Huwwara for 9 hours every day. Does the spring dry up at night? Clearly it is man-made, a settler cum “Mekorot” kind of arrangement. Every day, a “Mekorot” worker who now lives in a settlement nearby, perhaps Itamar, and is apparently bored, has been closing the main Schiber valve (which controls the water supply) in the evening for 9 hours till the next morning. This long daily closure affects not only Huwwara, but also another 5 villages in the area. The reader will agree that (even without watering lawns), we all need water in the evening hours in basic ways: from cooking, hygienic uses, doing laundry by hand or machine, to bathing or showering children and adults, and—why not? just for drinking. Especially after a long day’s fast in this damp heat (38 C). The daily Ramadan fast, repeated for 30 days, lasts some 14 hours: from 5 am till sunset, around 7:30 pm.
But perhaps “Mekorot” and the bored settler don’t need water in the evening for their flourishing gardens, swimming pools, and water-consuming dish-washers and washing machines or just to drink and wash their hands.
For Further Reading:
Baroud, Ramzy (Dr.)."How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War." Retrieved Counter Punch. 24.06 2016. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/24/how-israel-uses-water-as-a-weapon-of-war/)
Hass, Amira. "Stolen Water." Retrieved Ha'aretz, Jun 22, 2016.
Malone, Andrew R. "Water Now: the Impact of Israel's Security Fence on Palestinian Water Rights and Agriculture in the West Bank." Retrieved Heinon
line Citation: 36 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L. 639 2004.
Peled, Roni, Adv. & Mahmoud Abu Arisha, Adv., Letter to Gen. Joab Mordechai, DCO, 21.06.16, "מחסור חמור במים בכפרים פלסטינים בצפון הגדה המערבית". (acri.org.il)
Stein, Jeffrey D. "Waging Waterfare: Israel, Palestinians, and the Need for a New Hydro-logic to Govern Water Rights under Occupation." Retrieved HeinOnline Citation: 44 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 165 2011-2012.