Building a water pool for cattle flocks – En Al Hilwa

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Micki Fisher reporting and About 25 activists of the Palestinian Jordan Valley Coalition

We left Tel Aviv at dawn – 4:20 a.m., meeting everyone at Rosh Ha-Ayin and proceeding from there to the Jordan Valley.

At 6:15 we gathered from the north and from the south, at En Al Hilwa, near the pool created by the colonists, lords of the land – the reservoir that steals the water of the local spring with the force and backing of the army and the state authorities. Until that pool was created, this spring had served to water the cattle of all of En Al Hilwa’s residents. Until last summer, this water flowed freely and the cattle would gather near its source and drink it. But last summer, colonists from the nearby illegal outpost appropriated it and built their dipping pool there, lined in concrete, calling it Ma’ayan Ha-Degel (spring of the flag). They fenced it in so that the Palestinian cattle would not access it, and must make do with a much weaker flow further on. The Palestinian shepherds are not able to access it either.

In their distress, the Palestinian shepherds asked us to help them create a pool further on, to collect the water that continues trickling down the ravine. Thus they hope to water their flocks – about 300-400 heads.

We immediately set to work with simple work tools including hoes and shovels and hands… In two and a half hours we created a natural reservoir surrounded by local stones that turned into a small pool that would serve the cattle-watering as was the custom here for years. Further on we even created a kind of dam to store the additional water flowing along the ravine, and there too a natural pool formed, fitting into the ravine course.

Work was a dirty effort. At the end we all turned to the colonists’ spring, empty because of the Sabbath, to dip in clean water and wash off the dirt. We enjoyed the coffee and cake brought by some.

Ironically one could say that today ‘Zionism’ – always working for the benefit of the Jewish masters – had been turned around into a humane action for the benefit of the local Palestinians, the indigenous who by international law should be the only ones enjoying claim of the area and the spring.