Springwater continues to be vital to Palestinian farmers, but recently, at the settlers’ initiative, many springs on the other side of the Green Line have been turned into tourism sites from which the Palestinians are barred. Hebrew-language signs have been posted near many springs; some places have become memorial sites for settlers killed in terror attacks or during military service.
Brown signs dot Samaria’s roads bearing the Hebrew name of a nearby spring. This name is likely to appear on the Springs Route’s site list on a tourist map of local councils such as Mateh Binyamin in southern Samaria.
Near the settlement of Talmon, which can be entered through guarded gates, a sign points to a site called Tal Springs. While a reporter visited this site, a settler appeared with a herd of goats, claiming he was in charge of the area and every visit must be coordinated with him.
“Thanks to me you don’t see any Arabs here,” he said. At a nearby spring, which was added to the list of tourism sites, it was made clear that the area’s non-Jewish residents are not wanted. A large sign on a building nearby declares “Death to the Arabs.”
According to Dror Etkes, who has been researching construction in the settlements for several years, at least 25 springs are undergoing development for tourism. “Access to these springs has been blocked to the Palestinians, and there are dozens of other springs that the settlers have marked as targets for takeover,” he says.