Thursday, February 1, 2007

Municipal Water Wells Destroyed by Israeli Occupation Forces


Wednesday night Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) targeted and destroyed two municipal wells which provided approximately 50 percent of Rafah’s water. Water use is now restricted to 2 hours per day. The Rafah Municipal Department of Water and Wastewater told IOF commanders the exact location of these wells prior to the attacks. These wells were crucial to maintain basic health and sanitation in Rafah.

Workers from the water department connected private agricultural wells to the city water system in order to supply basic service. This irrigation water is unsafe for household use, but locals who cannot afford to by bottled or filtered water must drink it. The two destroyed wells were the largest and most productive of 6 wells which provide all municipal water in the Rafah area.

Armored bulldozers used for this demolition entered the Al Hasash neighborhood in Northwest Rafah from the militarized zone which isolates Rafah from Mawasi, a Palestinian village on sea coast. Recently a sewer installation near the Abu Zuhri wells targeted Wednesday night was also damaged by IOF demolition crews.

Ashraf Ghneim, director of the water department, stated that he sent letters to European Union representatives in the area informing them of the situation. The EU often provides aid to maintain infrastructure in economically depressed Gaza, where the unemployment rate approaches 80 percent. Ghneim also stated that the Abu Zuhri wells may have been destroyed as reprisal for two IOF soldiers killed Tuesday night by Palestinian fighters. The water department has in the past requested that resistance fighters not operate in this area because their presence may provoke such attacks.

The Abu Zuhri wells drew from the same aquifer as a nearby settlement. Some Rafah residents speculated that the wells were target for this reason.

Activists from the International Solidarity Movement cooperated with the water department in an attempt to protect another well located near the IOF militarized zone. Activists from the United States, Britain, and Sweden hung a banner from the pump house which read “Internationals live here.” They spent the night at the well.


Someone made an amateur documentary film which includes an interview with Abu Ahmed from Rafah. He says to the camera, “Government of Israel, no good. Government of America, no good. Arab governments, no good. . . worse maybe.”

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