WATCH: Israel orders the destruction of water pipes in Palestinian villages
The Israeli government on Thursday ordered the destruction and removal of water supplies in Palestinian areas, including East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, after a series of water-related incidents over the past week.
The order came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to halt all water withdrawals in East Jerusalem for at least five days, a move that comes as the government attempts to halt the growing use of groundwater by the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a method of power generation.
The latest clashes occurred on Wednesday, when Israeli troops raided homes in Qalqilya, east of Jerusalem, and the nearby village of al-Aqsa, where a Palestinian family was preparing to rebuild their home.
According to Palestinian sources, an Israeli military official told Reuters news agency that soldiers entered the village after being notified by the local water company that it was being used to provide electricity to the nearby city of Ramallah.
The incident came just days after a Palestinian security guard was killed by Israeli forces after an altercation in the Qalqa’iyya neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where Palestinians have complained of the police abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In another incident on Thursday, Israeli forces attacked the homes of a young man and his father in East Ramallah, killing the young man, and his 21-year-old son, who was also wounded.
A Palestinian family, who did not wish to be named, told Al Jazeera that they received an order to evacuate their homes in East Jersalem, east Jerusalem, on Thursday.
The family’s home is located in the village of Beit Ummar, located in East Efrat, where settlers are known to gather to take pictures and shoot videos.
The families were ordered to evacuate after the Israeli military came under fire, said the family’s father, Mohammed.
The Israeli military said the Israeli forces had targeted a building that houses the Palestinian security agency in the nearby settlement of Ariel.
The army, which has clashed with Palestinian groups, has been criticized for its treatment of Palestinians and is not known to have the backing of the PA.
The Israeli military has said it was conducting a “security operation” in the area and that Palestinians had not been notified of the move.
“We will continue to enforce the security measures until the situation improves,” the military said in a statement.
The Palestinian Authority has said the orders were “unacceptable” and that the family would be allowed to return to their homes, according to the AFP news agency.
On Tuesday, Israeli authorities also attacked two houses in the town of Beita, east Gaza, after locals reported that a Palestinian had been killed.
The family members said that they had received a call from the Israeli army on Wednesday evening, which they believe was an order from the Palestinian authorities.
In a statement, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the two houses were targeted because “the Palestinian community in this area uses water from the Erez crossing to irrigate its crops”.
The Palestinian Red Cross has also criticised the Israeli order, saying it is an “unprecedented assault on the rights of the Palestinian people, who have been fighting Israel for generations and will continue until their land is returned”.
The Israeli army has also said it is carrying out an “active security operation” along the border fence in the south of the West Wall district, where Palestinian activists have reported a series a water attacks.
Israel has blamed the spate of water attacks on the PA for the rising number of Palestinians who have sought to cross the border.
The PA has rejected the accusations.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, which campaigns for the rights and welfare of Palestinians, told The Associated Press news agency on Wednesday that the Israeli attacks were “a clear attempt to intimidate and restrict our freedom of movement”.
The PA has been waging a decades-long campaign to prevent Palestinian families from returning to their villages to rebuild after the demolitions, often with the support of Israeli forces.
It has also sought to stem the growing number of settlers who have established their presence in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in the southern West Bank.
In February, Israel began demolishing the homes and land of Palestinians living in East Jenin, the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
The demolition took place in a period of two weeks, with a total of 9,000 Palestinians living on the land destroyed.
Israel’s military has also demolished homes of Palestinians on the outskirts of Bethlehem, near the Gaza border, in an effort to stem their expansion.