A new report from the United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs turns attention to a serious new problem for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Settlers have seized a large number of springs, limiting their access to clean drinking water and irrigation for crops.
“Settlers have developed 40 springs as tourist sites, deploying picnic tables and benches and given them Hebrew names,” one of the OCHA researchers noted. Palestinians, needless to say, are kept away from such sites.
Settler leader David Ha’ivri confirmed the policy, but insisted that the springs were being turned into recreation sites primarily for the settlers themselves, and not as much for tourists.
Following the confirmation from Ha’ivri, the Israeli military denied that such a policy was in place, and insisted that the Palestinians were only legally barred from the springs on Fridays, and were free to access them any other day.
The report came as US officials angrily condemned the UN Human Rights Council for its plans to discuss settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank. The US said the plan to discuss the matter proved a “disproportionate focus on Israel.” They have yet to comment on the seizure of water supplies.