During the past week, the Israeli zoning and planning authorities used bulldozers and diggers to demolish six water cisterns in Area C in the Hebron governorate.
The cisterns harvested rainwater for the irrigation of Palestinian crops. Some of the cisterns were built as long as 40 years ago; however, they were demolished due to a lack of construction permit. Many Palestinians apply for permits for the building of water reserves in Area C, though; the vast majority of their requests are refused. In fact, the practice of demolishing Palestinian wells and water reserves in Area C has intensified in recent years leading to the destruction of over 200 structures between 2009 and 2011, according to data collected by UN OCHA.
Al-Haq’s new Interactive Map illustrates Israel’s illegal policies and practices relating to water in the OPT, including the demolition of wells and cisterns.
Hisham Isma’il ‘Asfour
In 1996, Hisham Isma’il ‘Asfour’s father bought eight dunums (one dunum equals 1,000 m²) of land in the al-Bweira area, north of Hebron city and 100 meters from the illegal Israeli colony of Kiryat Arba'. In order to irrigate their land, Hisham’s family built a waterproof container in the ground to harvest rainwater.
On 23 April 2012, at around 11:30 am, Hisham parked his truck at the entrance to his family’s land. Shortly after, a large unit of Israeli soldiers surrounded the area and asked him to move his vehicle to make room for a bulldozer and digger to pass. Hisham refused to remove his truck so a soldier took his keys and drove the truck away from the area.
The bulldozer and the digger began moving earth in search of the cistern. They soon found it and repeatedly struck the concrete roof until it collapsed. The bulldozer then dumped earth into the open cistern before leaving escorted by the Israeli forces.
Hisham recalls a demolition that took place in the same area three years ago, when Israeli planning and zoning authorities demolished a large cistern that belonged to his neighbour. The same day, the Israeli forces tried to find his family’s water reserve but failed in their search. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7263/2012)
Ihsan ‘Ali al-Karaki
Ihsan ‘Ali al-Karaki, is a Palestinian resident of Hebron. In 2004, his family bought a plot of land in Area C to the northeast of Hebron. The family began to construct a cistern so that they could collect rainwater. When the Israeli planning and zoning authorities sent them an order to cease construction the family applied for a permit but never received a response from the Israeli authorities. The al-Karaki family instructed a lawyer to deal with their case and to follow-up on the application; however, soon after they discovered that the order had been reissued and copies were scattered over various locations on their land.
On 23 April, at 9:30 am, Ihsan received a phone call from a relative who informed him that a large unit of Israeli soldiers was accompanying a bulldozer and digger onto his family’s land. Ihsan drove towards the area but was stopped by Israeli soldiers. The soldier in command of the demolition took Ihsan to where the vehicles were preparing to demolish the cistern. Ihsan asked the soldiers to show him the demolition order but the commander rebutted telling him to consult the planning and zoning authorities.
An Israeli police officer who was also at the scene, asked for Ihsan’s ID card and claimed that he could show him the order. The officer led Ihsan back to the jeep, locked him inside and set a guard outside. Ihsan was kept inside the jeep for 30 minutes from where he witnessed the bulldozer and digger demolish both his cistern and that of a neighbour. Afterwards, Ihsan was taken to an Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba’ settlement where he was detained until 4:00 pm. He was not questioned or seen by any police officer and was released still having not been shown the demolition order. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7264/2012)