If anything testifies to the nature of Israeli Apartheid it is the fact that half a million Israeli settlers (including East Jerusalem) use more water than the 2½+ million Palestinians in the West Bank. Settlers use over 17 times as much water per capita as Palestinians.
The articles below illustrate some aspects of this grand theft. Water is essential to any civilisation and behind all the talk of a ‘peace process’ lies Israel’s determination to hang onto its ill gotten gains as Palestinians go thirsty.
Water in Palestine
Of the water available from West Bank aquifers, Israel uses 73%, West Bank Palestinians use 17%, and illegal Jewish settlers use 10%.
While 10-14% of Palestine’s GDP is agricultural, 90% of them must rely on rain-fed farming methods. Israel’s agriculture is only 3% of their GDP, but Israel irrigates more than 50% of its land.
Three million West Bank Palestinians use only 250 million cubic meters per year (83 cubic meters per Palestinian per year) while six million Israelis enjoy the use of 1,954 million cubic meters (333 cubic meters per Israeli per year), which means that each Israeli consumes as much water as four Palestinians. Israeli settlers are allocated 1,450 cubic meters of water per person per year.
Israel consumes the vast majority of the water from the Jordan River despite only 3% of the river falling within its pre-1967 borders. Israel now diverts one quarter of its total water consumption through its National Water Carrier from the Jordan River, whereas Palestinians have no access to it whatsoever due to Israeli closures.
Not for consumption by Palestinians
This is a story of two villages – Susya and Sussia. They lie close together, but worlds apart.
In the Palestinian village of Susya, a woman sits by a dried out water cistern; the land around her is parched and barren. In the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Sussia, sprinklers irrigate vast green fields and children play in the pool.
This is not a story of natural disaster, but of calculated discrimination.
The deadly drought that grips the village of Susya has been deliberately created by an Israeli Government that is set on driving Palestinian civilians off the land they have lived on for centuries.
"Water is life. Without water we cannot live; not us, not the animals, or the plants. Before we had some water, but after the army destroyed everything we have to bring water from far away. They make our life very difficult, to make us leave."
Fatima al-Nawajah, a resident of Susya, speaking to Amnesty.
Amnesty International researchers visited Palestinian communities throughout the Occupied Territories and found that chronic suffering caused by deliberate denial of water is now widespread.
The hot, dry summer months are fast approaching – we must act now to avert a humanitarian disaster. And we desperately need your support.
Background to this campaign:
Amnesty's report, Troubled Waters: Palestinians denied fair access to water, contains indisputable evidence of an extensive, coordinated and deliberate strategy to deny water to thousands of people. Today, 90% of tap water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption. Life-threatening water-borne diseases are common. Israel has taken sole control of the Mountain Aquifer, the West Bank's principal water supply, and is taking around 80% of it to supply either the illegal settlements or Israel itself. Read more and download full report.
Supporter Care Team at sct@amnesty. org.uk or on +44 (0)20 7033 1777.
More Examples of Zionist Water Theft
In the villages of Qarawat Bani Zayid, Kufr `Ayn, Beit Rima, Deir Ghasane, and Nabi Salah the taps have been running dry- no water for drinking, for washing, for livestock or agriculture. Many Palestinians in this area have not had water from their taps since March 15.
The villages, situated north-west of Ramallah, are inhabited by about 15,000 people, who at the height of the scorching summer season, receive a rationed amount of water amounting to 48 liters a day per person –less then the average consumed by Palestinians, (66 liters a day per person), and ONE FIFTH of the average provided to the Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories and in Israel (235 liters a day).
To supplement this amount, the villagers are forced to purchase water from tankers who make the rounds of the villages, and pay exorbitant prices of up to 40 NIS per cubic meter, ten-fold the price paid for water supplied through the piped water distribution net work in the village.
In the winter, the water ration for the villages stood at 60-70 cubic meters per hour, and now, at the height of summer, it has been cut down to only 30 cubic meters an hour.
In the past, the villagers had drawn their water from `Aboud spring which amply supplied all of their domestic, herding and farmer needs.
Mekorot- Israel National Water co. as created its own infrastructure at this spring and only allows a small portion of its water to arrive to village. Now there is no water for farming, livestock are dwindling, the Palestinians themselves have a bare minimum for their own use, while their settler-neighbors behind the fences and walls enjoy a bountiful supply.
Since the Occupation in occupation in 1967, Israel has taken control over most water sources in the West Bank, and uses it mostly for Israeli clients including settlers.
The mountain aquifer, with its yearly yield of 600 million cubic meters, is considered a joint(Palestinian-Israeli) reservoir of which Israel is permitted to use – but certainly not in present proportions, as 80% of the water is taken for Israeli consumption while 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank receive merely the remaining 20%,
(according Palestinian sources it`s 84/16%). In the Jordan Valley, Israel draws 32 million cubic meters of water a year primarily mostly for export agricultural products, while total Palestinian domestic, industrial and agricultural consumption for the whole West Bank is limited to 190 million cubic meters and many Palestinians communities in the Jordan Valley are made to go without.
Furthermore, 227,500 people living in 220 villages are not even connected to the water supply grid. Another 190,000 enjoy only a partial supply of running water.
The ample supply of water for Palestinians` domestic, public, farming and industry needs is not a `favor`. It is a lawful and moral duty, and its violation constitutes a severe breach of international law. The Purpose of the water convoy is to create awareness in Israel and abroad to the Palestinians water
Israelis get four-fifths of scarce West Bank water, says World Bank
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 27 May 2009
A deepening drought in the Middle East is aggravating a dispute over water resources after the World Bank found that Israel is taking four times as much water as the Palestinians from a vital shared aquifer.
The region faces a fifth consecutive year of drought this summer, but the World Bank report found huge disparities in water use between Israelis and Palestinians, although both share the mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians have access to only a fifth of the water supply, while Israel, which controls the area, takes the rest, the bank said.
Israelis use 240 cubic metres of water a person each year, against 75 cubic metres for West Bank Palestinians and 125 for Gazans, the bank said. Increasingly, West Bank Palestinians must rely on water bought from the Israeli national water company, Mekorot.
In some areas of the West Bank, Palestinians are surviving on as little as 10 to 15 litres a person each day, which is at or below humanitarian disaster response levels recommended to avoid epidemics. In Gaza, where Palestinians rely on an aquifer that has become increasingly saline and polluted, the situation is worse. Only 5%-10% of the available water is clean enough to drink.
The World Bank report, published last month, provoked sharp criticism from Israel, which disputed the figures and the scale of the problem on the Palestinian side. But others have welcomed the study and its findings.
Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli head of Friends of the Earth Middle East, said there was a clear failure to meet basic water needs for both Israelis and Palestinians, and that Israelis were taking `the lion`s share`.
`The bottom line is there is a severe water crisis out there, predominantly on the Palestinian side, and it will be felt even worse this coming summer,` Bromberg said at a conference on the issue in Jerusalem.
He said the Joint Water Committee, established in 1995 with Israelis and Palestinians as an interim measure under the Oslo peace accords, had failed to produce results and needed reform.
The World Bank report said the hopes that the Oslo accords might bring water resources for a viable Palestinian state and improve the life of Palestinians had `only very partially been realised`.
It said failings in water resource and management and chronic underinvestment were to blame. In Gaza, the continued Israeli economic blockade played a key role in preventing maintenance and construction of sewage and water projects. In the West Bank, Israeli military controls over the Palestinians were a factor, with Palestinians still waiting for approval on 143 water projects.
`We consider that the efficiency of our aid in the current situation is compromised,` said Pier Mantovani, a Middle East water specialist for the World Bank, which is an important source of aid for the Palestinians.
Most went on short-term emergency projects with limited long-term strategic value. It was a `piecemeal, ad hoc` approach, he said.
Yossi Dreisen, a former official and now adviser at the Israeli water authority, disputed the Bank`s findings and said many remarks in the report were `not correct`. He produced figures suggesting Israeli water consumption per person had fallen since 1967, when Israel captured and occupied the West Bank, while Palestinian consumption had risen.
Israel argues that the water problem should be solved by finding new sources, through desalination and water treatment.
`There is not enough water in this area,` said Dreisen. `Something must be done. The solution where one is giving water to the other is not acceptable to us.`
However, Fuad Bateh, an adviser to the Palestinian water authority, said Israel continued to have obligations under international law as the occupying power and should allow Palestinians water resources through an `equitable and reasonable allocation in accordance with international law`.
He accepted that there was a lack of institutional development and capacity on the Palestinian side, but he said the Palestinians were caught in an unequal, asymmetric dispute. Palestinians had not been allowed to develop any new production wells in the West Bank since the 1967 war.
`Palestinians have no say in the Israeli development of these shared, trans-boundary, water resources,` he said. `It is a situation in which Israel has a de facto veto over Palestinian water development.`