Israel Plans to Destroy Only Water Source of Shepherds in West Bank Village

Move comes despite Israeli authorities telling international agencies that there would be no demolitions during the month of Ramadan.

The Jordan Valley water source that is slated for demolition.
The Jordan Valley water source that is slated for demolition. Guy Hirshfeld

Israel intends to destroy a water-holding tank that serves 20 families of Palestinian shepherds and their flocks in the northern Jordan Valley.

This, despite the fact that Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the territories (to which the Civil Administration is subordinate) promised representatives of international agencies that there would be no demolitions during the month of Ramadan, except for structures built during this time, Haaretz has learned.

The simple structure collects water coming out of a natural spring. A rubber hose attached to it runs for a few dozen meters to a plastic trough. The Civil Administration claims the structure was built illegally.

The shepherds, who live in a community called Umm al-Jimal, own 700 sheep and goats, as well as 300 cows and some horses. Last year, a flood destroyed another holding tank that served the families, also blocking the spring’s exit. The families are concerned that destroying the current holding tank will once more block the spring, which is their only close water source.

A final injunction to stop work and demolish the holding tank was given in April 2012, but was never implemented. Last Tuesday, an inspector called Avi posted a notice concerning filing reservations regarding the demolition injunction “for a 10-meter-square pool of water.”

Residents were given three days to present their reservations at the Civil Administration. At press time, they didn’t know if an attorney for the Palestinian Authority had managed to file on time, or whether Civil Administration officials will arrive in coming days to demolish the tank.

Haaretz was unable to contact the attorney on Saturday and couldn’t contact the Civil Administration because of Shabbat.