Yesterday, my friend Joseph Dana and I went for a visit in the Palestinian village of Sussia, on South Mt. Hebron. For some years now, Joseph and other activists of Taayush have been helping the local community in the area, which suffers from frequent harassments of the local settlers.
It was a very hot day – the last weeks have been the hottest we knew this year – and a local Palestinian farmer told us of his water problem. Israel has constructed water pipes in the area, but they only serve the army and the settlers. The Palestinians are forced to drive to the closest town, and buy their water in tanks over there. They end up paying 10 times the price I pay in Tel Aviv. And the farmers in South mount Hebron are the poorest of the Palestinian population. They live in tents, some even in caves. They used to have water holes in which they stored rain waters, but access to their fields and to many of the holes in them is denied by the army and the settlers.
With no other option, some farmers were forced to use unauthorized connections to the Israeli water system, running just a few meters from their tents. The Israeli media is calling this “stealing water”. As settler from the area complained to Ynet‘s reporter:
“we don’t have water in the morning. Children want to wash their faces before they go to school, and the faucets are empty. Even a cup of coffee becomes a rare commodity”
When I got back home from South Mt. Hebron, I saw this footage, of a Palestinian farmer named Fadel Jaber, arrested for stealing water.
Read also what the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof saw in his recent visit to south Mt. Hebron.
UPDATE: Spokesperson for the border police told Haaretz [Hebrew] that Jaber and another man were arrested for attacking and disturbing the work of the policemen and soldiers that were dealing with the water theft. The spokesperson added that “the [behavior of] the 5 years old son was planned and staged by the Palestinians. Instead of acting responsibly and taking the kid out of the scene, they chose to engage in cheap anti-Israeli propaganda.”
Maybe this remark is in poor taste, but watching the heartbreaking cries of Fadel’s son, I couldn’t help remembering the famous ending minutes Bicycle Thief, Vittorio De Sica’s classic film. Watch here from min 5:30, after the desperate father is caught stealing the bicycle.