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Israeli forces destroy UNICEF-funded water pipeline in Jordan Valley

Feb. 20, 2017 2:46 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 21, 2017 11:04 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces demolished a water pipeline in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank on Monday, after the same pipeline was destroyed earlier this month, according to local sources.

Muataz Bisharat, a local official who monitors Israeli activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers destroyed the eight-and-a-half kilometers pipeline running between the Bedouin communities of al-Hadidiya and al-Ras al-Ahmar in the northern Jordan Valley, east of the Tubas district.

He said that 47 Palestinian families depended on the pipeline as their water source.

According to Bisharat, the pipeline was funded by international humanitarian organization UNICEF, at a construction cost of 12,500 euros (approximately $13,270). He said that it was the second time this month that Israeli forces had destroyed the pipeline.

A spokesperson for Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government's policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma'an on Monday evening that "an illegal water pipe was disconnected" in the area. The spokesperson went on to claim that the "illegal (water pipeline) connections cause water theft and pollution in the area that harm all residents" in the occupied West Bank.

Following a spate of demolitions targeting Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank last year, which included the destruction of a new drinking water network supported by UNICEF, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Palestine Robert Piper warned of the risk of forcible transfer of Bedouin communities.

“Repeated rounds of demolitions, restrictions on access to basic services and regular visits by Israeli security personnel promoting ‘relocation plans’ are all part of a coercive environment that now surrounds these vulnerable Palestinian households,” Piper said at the time, highlighting that Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley already suffered from extreme water scarcity.

UNOCHA documented in 2016 the highest number of demolitions in the occupied territory since the agency first began recording them.

Since the beginning of 2017, Israeli forces carried out demolitions in the Jordan Valley on at least six other occasions, in addition to seizing irrigation hoses in the region.

According to UNICEF, which manages and funds projects in the Jordan Valley to improve water and sanitation infrastructure, lack of clean water in the occupied territory forces Palestinians to make “unhealthy compromises” by trading off between household or personal hygiene.

Amnesty International estimates that up to 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water.

Meanwhile, just half of Palestinian proposals for wells and improvement projects to the water network were approved by Israel between 1995 and 2008, compared to a 100 percent approval rate for Israeli projects, according to Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.

As a result, demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in areas fully controlled by the Israeli military, known as Area C.

Some 88 percent of the Jordan Valley is classified as Area C , making the region’s Bedouin and herding communities particularly vulnerable to such policies.
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