For second year, settlement sewage floods town 25Apr11 April 26, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  25 April 2011

Beit Ummar residents on Monday accused Israeli settlers of opening sewage pipes and causing a flood of human waste in fields growing grapes.

The flood is the second in as many years, coming almost a year to the day after a 2010 flood from the Kfar Etzion settlement.

Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Awad Abu Sway said a pipe running north of the town near Wad Shakhat was opened, covering more than 10 dunums of privately-owned vineyards with waste.

Ibrahim Odeh Sabarneh, one of the owners of the flooded fields, said he was plowing the earth on Sunday morning and did not see any contamination at all. He accused settlers of “taking advantage of the night” and opening the pipes.

“This is no coincidence, this is not the first time this has happened,” Sabarneh said.

On 22 April 2010, seven dunums of the Sabarneh family’s land was flooded with sewage.

An Israeli Civil Administration representative confirmed the incident at the time, saying a pump from the Kfar Etzion settlement stopped working due to a power malfunction and sewage overflowed from the network. The official said the matter was a mistake, and as soon as the Beit Ummar governor notified officials of the issue the problem was rectified.

A spokesman from the Israeli government body could not be reached for comment on the latest incident.

Abu Sway condemned the flooding, saying it was another example of settler aggression against Palestinians, and part of a continued effort to drive residents from their lands.

The town of Beit Ummar has been a flashpoint in recent months, with regular Israeli military patrols and detention campaigns sparking clashes between locals and soldiers.

Israeli forces said a fence was being put up on one side of the village near the main road, citing rock throwing and the safety of settler cars passing by. Beit Ummar residents said the fence and several road blocks being erected at the same time were violations of their right to freedom of movement.

Each week, activist groups from the town organize anti-settlement protests, often joined by Israeli and international solidarity activists. The protesters march toward the illegal settlement of Karmi Zur, and demand an end to land confiscations and settler aggression.

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