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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
1 March 2012
THE HUMANITARIAN IMPACT OF THE TAKEOVER OF
PALESTINIAN WATER SPRINGS BY ISRAELI SETTLERS
1. In recent years,
Israeli settler activity has significantly impaired Palestinian access to, and use of, a growing number of water springs.
The main methods used by settlers to that end have been threats and intimidation, and the erection of fences around the targeted areas.
2. This phenomenon comes in the context of Israel’s longstanding policy of settling its civilian population in the occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international humanitarian law
. Nearly 40 percent of the West Bank has been seized by the Israeli authorities for that purpose. Additional Palestinian properties, including springs, have been taken over by settler groups without formal authorization, but with the acquiescence and often active support of the Israeli authorities.
3. Following the reduction of Palestinian presence, settlers begin developing the springs into tourist attractions, with the support of various Israeli governmental bodies
. The ever growing tourism infrastructure of settlements contributes to their entrenchment by adding a source of revenue for the settler population, as well as by “normalizing” settlements in the eyes of larger segments of Israeli society.
4. The inability to access and use springs has significantly undermined the livelihoods and security of Palestinians living in affected communities.
Many farmers were forced to either cease cultivating the land or face a reduction in productivity. Herders and households had to increase their expenditures to purchase more expensive piped or tankered water. The presence of armed settlers at the springs and their surroundings also resulted in increased friction and clashes.
5. The practices involved in the takeover and development of springs - including trespass, intimidation, theft, and building without permit - are illegal under both international and Israeli military legislation. Yet,
the Israeli authorities have systematically failed to enforce the law on those responsible for these acts and to provide Palestinians with any effective remedy.
6. The encroachment on Palestinian land for the purpose of
settlement expansion is a key cause of humanitarian vulnerability of the Palestinian population.
Settlement expansion also results in the fragmentation of the West Bank, thus undermining the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
7. The Israeli authorities must stop facilitating the transfer of Israeli civilians into the oPt; restore Palestinian access to the water springs taken over by settlers; conduct effective investigations into cases of settler violence and trespass and prosecute those responsible; and prevent ongoing settler “tours” into springs located on private Palestinian land .
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