In a 2011 incident, Israeli soldiers scuffle with Arab farmers in the Hebron area as the Israeli army prevents water piracy. (Najeh Hahlamoun/ FLASH90) Najeh Hahlamoun/ FLASH90
Arab water theft

The issue of stealing water, a precious resource in the Middle East, is a longstanding problem and has also involved within the Palestinian Authority by Arabs against other Arabs.

By United With Israel Staff and TPS

Israelis in the community of Maaleh Hever, situated south of Hebron, woke up Thursday morning to discover that they had no water in their taps, the third time in two weeks this has occurred.

The recurring water cuts are the result of water theft carried out by local Arabs during the summer months, a phenomenon that has increased in recent weeks. Several other communities in the area have experienced water shortages as a result of water theft.

The Arabs connect illegally to the water system and by doing so cause the water pressure to drop and deplete the resources.

Over 70 families were left without water on Thursday, leading Har Hevron Regional Council head Yochai Damri to demand that the Israeli government act forcefully against the thieves.

Rachel Horvitz, manager of Maale Hever, said that the residents were “unwilling to accept a reality in which the Arabs sabotaged the system and stole water to irrigate their fields in an illegal fashion while we remained with no drinking water.”

The issue of stealing water, a precious resource in the Middle East, is a longstanding problem.

In June 2010, the IDF announced that it had thwarted an attempt by Palestinians to illegally connect to the Israeli national water infrastructure in order to siphon off water from it.

The thieves often go unnoticed, but in this case, Israeli soldiers spotted four people trying to connect to the water pipes at a location south of Hebron. The four Palestinians realized that they had been discovered and initially fled the scene, but the soldiers followed them and managed to catch two culprits, although the other two succeeded in escaping.

There has also been water theft within the Palestinian Authority (PA) by Arabs against other Arabs.

In July 2010, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that a municipal leader in the Hebron area had been accused of failing to “commit to the Water Authority’s standards on infrastructure and water theft.”

PA  Water Authority chief Shadad Al-A’tili told Ma’an at the time that “each head of a local body and village council must guarantee that they will not manipulate manholes and tabs” and “should not be allowed to steal water in their areas.”

He added that “several meetings were held across the Hebron district to end a water crisis and to end theft in the area.”