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Wednesday, August 26, 1998 Published at 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK

World: Middle East

West Bank water row

This tap is on for two hours a day

BBC's Paul Adams: "Many are struggling to get by"
Palestinians have accused Israel of diverting water away from their towns in order to keep Jewish settlements in the occupied territories fully supplied.

Israel denies the charge saying Palestinian farmers are to blame for using illegal connections to irrigate their fields.

But it has now agreed to provide extra water tanks and consider drilling new wells.

[ image: Palestinians blame greedy settlements]
Palestinians blame greedy settlements
Many Palestinian camps have not had running water for months.

In one refugee camp 7,000 people depend on a water supply provided by the UN which has run for just two hours a day since April.

''Life is very difficult. Water means life and cleanliness. How can people live without water - it's impossible,'' said one refugee.

The mayor of Hebron, Mustafa Natsheh, blames the Jewish settlements for the shortage.

[ image: Children at Ariel cool off in pool]
Children at Ariel cool off in pool
He says people in the settlements have at least eight times more water per head than the Palestinians.

In Hebron there is only one water source for 100,000 residents - trucks distribute what they can.

Many resort to buying water on the black market at almost twice the normal price.

But Israel denies giving any preferential treatment.

Dina Shalit of the large Jewish Ariel settlement said: ''Certainly in any interim period it's absolutely mandatory that Israel maintains control of the water sources that are necessary to maintain the people of Israel.''

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