Hundreds march in West Bank to demand water access for Palestinians

Hundreds march in West Bank to demand water access for Palestinians
Hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli activists marched in the southern Hebron hills on Saturday demanding access to water for Palestinian communities and an end to settler violence.
2 min read
03 October, 2021
Unlike the village of al-Mufkara, the nearby settler outpost of Avigayil is hooked up to a water system [source: Getty]

Some 400 activists took part in a "water march" in the southern Hebron hills on Saturday demanding access to water for Palestinians and an end to Israeli settler violence. 

The protesters, both Israelis and Palestinians, walked to several villages including Khirbet al-Mufkara, where clashes broke out earlier in the week. Dozens of masked settlers attacked Palestinians and injured 12 people, including a 3-year-old boy, as well as damaged vehicles and water tanks. 

Saturday's march was organised by local activists and included two members of Knesset as well as "Breaking the Silence", an Israeli veterans' organisation, and "Machsom Watch", an Israeli women collective against the occupation.  

Images of water march shared with The New Arab
Activists on the 'water march' shared these images with The New Arab

"We're on the move from the town of A-Twani to Mufkara," wrote Breaking the Silence on Twitter. "Because access to water is a basic right. Because settler violence must be put to an end."

Footage of the march showed activists holding banners that read "This is a non-violent protest", as they waved Palestinian flags. 

A tractor carrying a water tank for local communities was driven among the protesters. 

Israeli forces were waiting by a near outpost as the march was taking place, according to photos shared by Israeli mediaThe march ended without violence, reported Haaretz

Israeli forces have been accused of "drying up" Palestinian neighbourhoods as part of their punitive occupation. 

While citizens of the Jewish state are able to access the national water grid, Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills are barred from doing so and are prohibited by authorities from maintaining cisterns for storing rainwater. 

As a result, they are forced to travel long distances for water or pay inflated prices. 

Some Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills pay more than four times the price of water in Israel and end up spending as much as a third of their monthly income on the basic resource, according to human rights group B'Tselem. 

"Often the [Israeli] army will confiscate or destroy [water] containers carried by Palestinian families," said Daphne Banai from Machsom Watch. 

Banai also said that the Israeli army has destroyed water pipelines and obtaining a permit to build a makeshift pipeline is very difficult for communities in the West Bank. 

"Water is a given for most Jewish Israelis. Palestinians in the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills must struggle every day to secure every drop of water for themselves and their families," said Banai.