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Watch: a sole settler deprives an entire community of water

A visit by Ta’ayush activists to the hills near Bir el Eid turns into a tug-of-war with a local settler

Activists fighting a settler over a Palestinian water hose near Bir el Eid (photo: Ta'ayush)

On Saturday, a lone settler from the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Yair prevented water access to Palestinians living in Bir el Eid.  This is not the first time this has happened. The specific water cistern – dug by Palestinians from Bir el Eid and situated on their privately owned land – has been impossible to pump water out of for months because the settlers from this tiny neighboring outpost of about 10 families are adamant about annexing it (even though the state provides them with their own system of running water).

The summer heat has still not broken in the South Hebron Hills. The sun beat down on us as we were pulled into a violent tug-of-war with Avidan over the hose directing water out of the cistern into a small tank to be taken back to the village. We were five or six people trying to keep the hose in place and he was just one, pulling it violently away from us and trying every which way to stop the water from flowing. His energy was literally that of a horse, as if he woke up that Sabbath morning and garnered all his strength for this one moment. He was also strangely calm in his merciless determination.

The moment he could he managed to get himself into the cistern itself, where the only chance of removing him was by excessive force, something activists engaged in non-violent resistance are not keen on doing. He told us we don’t understand him because we are not observant Jews and because we come from the city.

Although he was outnumbered and couldn’t keep up the fight forever, he knew it was only a matter of time before the soldiers and border police would arrive, declare the area a closed military zone and evacuate us. A victory for him, as he can return later on unimpeded. We reminded the soldiers that this is private Palestinian property and that the law obligates them to prevent settlers from disturbing the peace and enable Palestinians to go on about their business. But to no avail.

Watch the entire incident here:

This theater and mockery recurs week after week after week in locations all over the West Bank. It is just one account of a much larger chronicle of occupation whose stories have become all too familiar.

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