In Area C there are many villages and hamlets that, unlike the neighbouring Israeli settlements, are not connected to the water network. The people here rely on springs, wells and collecting surface-water in cisterns, but it is not enough. Connection to the mains would make a huge difference to life in these rural communities. But there is a snag. They need permission to build any kind of structure and even if their documentation is in order, the final say lies with the Israel Defence Forces civil administration. A recent UN report records that between 2000 and 2007, 94 per cent of building permit applications submitted by Palestinians living in Area C were denied.
One of the scores of unconnected villages in the south Hebron hills is at-Tuwani. A village leader, Hafez, is clearly worried. "The settlements are connected to the network but when we want to build new cisterns the Israelis won't give us permission. If we build them the army will knock them down."