Holy Land: Israeli military destroys three water cisterns in Beqa'a Valley

Dust rises from smashed cistern

Dust rises from smashed cistern

Last Thursday, three members of the Christian Peacemaker Team here received a call asking us to come immediately to the Beqa'a Valley. Bulldozers had arrived to carry out demolition orders on farmers' water cisterns (open, walled ponds for collecting water) which irrigate this fertile valley of grapes. 

When we arrived at the scene,  two 'stingers'  ( 5-ton jack hammers) had already begun their path of destruction.  Away from the demolition action, two handcuffed men and a woman sat on the ground  in powerlessness. Earlier, the soldiers had blindfolded these men, but later removed the blindfolds. Within an hour, the family owning this cistern had  lost the source of water for their many dunams of grapes. Many Palestinians from the Valley watched, mostly in silence.

The caterpillar stingers now crawled to the next site.  Soldiers ordered the men and boys away from the cistern. Internationals too were ordered away. This was now a 'closed military zone.  Within a short time this second cistern too was useless. The claw-like creatures pushed their way to still one more prey-a much larger well-built cistern providing water for three families.  Now three caterpillars took their positions and began to bang against the well constructed cistern with determination, cracking, smashing the walls with tons of machine force.
The whole lopsided battle of machines against the work of these farmers' hands lasted one hour. The owner, who had also experienced demolition of the same cistern in 1999, looked on in grief. 

The harm was done.  Reporters and Internationals went home. But for these families, the work of the military has sown tears, hearts that are now heavy, broken.

Later, in winding down with one of the  families, the father commented: "We have nothing.  We have lost everything.  We are poor; we have no weapons; we have little water and food. The only thing we have to leave our children is our land.  Sometimes I ask myself:   'Why did God put us here?  You tell me:  Why did God put us here?'"

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world.  To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, visit our website at:  www.cpt.org .
See photos from the demolitions: cpt.org/gallery/album285

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