Israel destroys wells near Hebron

AFP , Wednesday 2 Mar 2011

Israeli army destroys three water wells in West Bank used by Palestinians for agriculture. UN condemns routine demolitions in occupied territories

Israeli troops on Wednesday destroyed three water wells belonging to Palestinian villagers living near a sprawling Israeli settlement outside Hebron, witnesses said.

Two of the wells were located in Wadi al-Ghrous, just east of Kiryat Arba settlement and were used for agriculture by a family of ten, they said.

The third well was used by 20 people and was situated in the nearby village of Al-Beqa. All three were built without the requisite permits from Israel, they said.

There was no immediate response from the Israeli military department, which handles such issues in the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, in the northern West Bank, Israeli troops razed some 20 Bedouin structures located in Beit Furik, southeast of the city of Nablus, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Permits for Palestinians to build in the West Bank are extremely rare and the Israeli authorities routinely issues demolition orders for houses and infrastructure built without their approval.

Last month, the UN humanitarian agency, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) condemned Israel's routine demolition of cisterns and wells.

"It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind the destruction of basic rain water collection systems, some of them very old, which serve marginalised rural and herder Palestinian communities, where water is already scarce and where drought is an ever-present threat," said Maxwell Gaylard, who heads OCHA in the Palestinian territories.

"Such deliberate demolitions in occupied territory are also in contravention of Israel's obligations under international law," he said in a statement.

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