By Al Harith Al Hasni
Muheeb Fathi Abu Mohsen, a resident of Ein el-Helweh in the northern Jordan Valley, brings his cows twice a day to the water spring of Ein el-Helweh to drink from it – once before he goes to the pastures, and in the evening after his return. He does not know whether his cows will be able to drink from that spring anymore after the Israeli settlers have taken control of it and began to do restoration work on it.
According to human rights activist Aref Daraghmeh, the settlers may draw the spring water to the settlement outposts they have built on Palestinian lands in past years. It is also close to the settlement of Maskiyot and the new settlement bloc in Abu al-Qandoul, built on land taken by force from its Palestinian owners.
There are scores of fresh and saline springs in the northern Jordan Valley. Some of them have dried up due to the policies of the Israeli occupation companies by digging underground water wells. But Ain al-Hilweh spring is a fresh water spring used by residents for domestic use and irrigation.
However, after people have started to rely on water purchased from the villages of Ain al-Baida and Bardala, which are adjacent to them, the spring water is now being used for the livestock.
"If we want to buy water for our cattle, we would need 45 cubic meters a day," said Abu Mohsen. “The spring saved us a lot of money.”
The residents of the northern Jordan Valley face a water problem first because of the occupation policies and second because of the settlers who have dwelled in area outposts for years.
In the fiery summer, residents’ need for spring water increases. It helps them stay in their lands. However, only few herders are able today to bring their cattle to the spring to drink its water.
"Dozens of herders used to bring their cattle to the spring," said Abu Mohsen, who has lived in the area for more than 50 years. “But today the settlers also bring their livestock there and they push us out.”
Figures on the northern Jordan Valley prepared by the Palestine Liberation Organization's Abdullah Hourani Center in late 2017 say that "the northern Jordan Valley lies within the largest eastern water basin in Palestine. Yet Israel controls 85% of its water, while the Palestinians control only 15%."
The consumption rate of the settler living in the northern Jordan Valley is 8 times higher than that of the Palestinian citizen living everywhere else.
According to the Israeli rights center, B'Tselem, the right to water and sanitation is a fundamental right enshrined in international conventions to which Israel is committed, and it therefore must enforce it in all areas under its control. What the Israeli water company, Mekerot, has done in digging water wells has drained dozens of springs in that area.
It was concluded that the Israeli occupation authorities are pursuing this policy towards the water in the Jordan Valley in order to push its Palestinian citizens out of their homes.