Sixty Jewish families living in the town of Pnei Hever, near Hevron, face a Sabbath without water due to Palestinian Authority water thieves. Officials at Mekorot, Israel's national water company, say they are unable to help.
Pnei Hever and other Jewish towns in the Hevron region have faced daily water theft for some time. PA Arabs drill into water pipes leading to the town every night, stealing an estimated 75% of the towns' water supply.
On Thursday night, PA thieves drilled into the pipes leading to Pnei Hever and rerouted the water supply. Residents of the village woke up Friday morning to find that they had only 10 cubic meters of water to split between hundreds of people.
As Mekorot workers said they could not help, residents turned to the Public Security Ministry and Ministry for National Infrastructure in the hope of getting assistance.
A similar incident took place last Thursday, when residents of Pnei Hever awoke to discover that nearly all of their water had been stolen overnight. Children were forced to go to school or daycare without so much as brushing their teeth or washing their hands.
Yigal Klein, head of the Pnei Hever secretariat, said the water theft phenomenon was a familiar one. A resident recently witnessed an Arab truck driver fiddling with a water pipe near the Jewish town of Susiya, he said. “Many times trucks fill up with water and drive to the [Arab] villages,” he said.
Some of the pipes bringing water to local Jewish villages pass through Arab villages, where residents do what they please with the water supply and the IDF's hands are tied, he said.
Water bills have risen repeatedly in the last few months with a 5% rise to take effect shortly.
"What's most worrisome is that we've been told to prepare for an entire summer like this,” he said. “Our regional council is trying to put pressure on the government ministries, on the Water Authority, on Mekorot, but we're getting the feeling that this is what's been decreed for us and there's nothing to do.”