Ramallah, without water

The water issue is still outstanding in Ramallah. This morning the water crew was able to visit the pumping station after a lot of coordination with Israeli DCO (district coordinating office), even though most times even this coordination does not guarantee protection from Israeli soldiers and tanks. But the situation is so tense they tried to get some assurances that the Palestinian repair crew would not be injured.

It did not work. An Israeli tank tried to smash one of JWU “Jerusalem Water Undertaking” cars while they were attempting to reach the damaged pumping station.

The Red Cross is not cooperating with the Palestinian JWU at all and the repair crew had to move alone. The crew reports that they “were about to be killed many times”. Israeli gunfire took place on one of the JWU cars.

JWU repair crew were forced to take to the ground for long periods every time they faced a tank.

Upon reaching the station late morning, they found the doors have been damaged, the pump monitoring cameras shot, the control system shut down, two pumps burned (due to the heavy Israeli Apache shelling that took place two nights ago), another pump was strangely broken. The fourth pump was damaged but repairable.

The Palestinian JWU crew were able to operate the fourth pump today before being forced to leave the station due to Israeli gunfire in their direction.

This will greatly minimize the possibility of a human catastrophe in Ramallah although the pressure will not probably reach all homes.

Tomorrow the JWU will attempt to replace another pump with a spare in order to have two working pumps, which should be sufficient but not stable, to supply the whole area with water, unless the Israelis disallow or prevent the crews from reaching the station tomorrow morning.

Also today, the JWU administrative offices and HDQ in Ramallah was invaded and the Israeli soldiers arrested all JWU emergency staff present except one. Those arrested had their hands cuffed and eyes blindfolded. The Israeli soldiers that rampaged the offices broke every closed door, cut telephone lines, then left. The detained JWU employees were taken to an unknown place.

Both the Palestinian Electric Company and Red Cross suspended their work today due to the life-threatening treatment from Israeli soldiers, thus they both were not able to assist in the repair job today.

*** Note that I bring this up in detail to pass to all the seriousness of the essential utility situation on the ground. We fear that similar damage will be done to the water supply in Nablus, Bethlehem and Jenin as well as other Palestinian cities that have been invaded. Also, we need external support and visibility for this issue otherwise the Israelis will prohibit the continuing Ramallah repair job tomorrow. Another fear is that tonight they will damage the repair work that was done today.

Please make an effort to keep this critical issue in the eyes of the media and international humanitarian institutions.