A Mekorot water pipe
A Mekorot water pipeFlash 90

Police in Judea and Samaria have uncovered a major source of water theft by Arab water thieves in the Hevron Hills area. Police announced Thursday that they had discovered a major water theft operation that was going on underground – some ten feet (3 meters) below the surface of the earth.

The theft entailed an illegal hookup to a water main owned by Mekorot, Israel's public water utility. The water was being pumped into a three-story building in the Hevron area. Inspectors saw a water pump, as well as a reserve pond and other storage facilities inside and around the building. Further investigation yielded discovery of the illegal hookup, far from where inspectors making a routine investigation would have thought to venture.

The owner of the building is being sought by police for questioning. Police are trying to determine if he or others were running a “reselling” business, stealing water and distributing it to customers. Yisrael Tal, Hevron District Police commander said that “the theft of water and the damage to infrastructure in the Hevron area is a major issue for us, and we deal with it with all urgency.”

Last week, the a 100-family Jewish community in nearby Bet Haggai was cut off from its water supply altogether. The Har Hevron Regional Council's spokesperson said that there have been more than 2,000 cases of water theft in the region – all by local Arabs – in the course of the last year.