Ramadan 2016: Israel 'cuts off water supply to West Bank' during Muslim holy month

Israeli government insists there is ‘no truth’ in claims and says shortages down to faulty water lines

Peter Yeung, The Independent, 17 June 2016

water-shortage-palestine.jpgPalestinian children fill bottles with water from a public tap in Khan Younis due to water shortages (file pic) Getty Images

Israel has cut off the water supply to large areas of the West Bank, Palestinian authorities have claimed.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have reportedly been left without access to safe drinking water during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, at a time when temperatures can exceed 35C.

The northern city of Jenin, which has a population of more than 40,000, said its water supplies had been cut in half by Mekorot, Israel‘s national water company. Jenin is home to a refugee camp, established in 1953, which contains 16,000 registered refugees.

Ayman Rabi, the executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera that in some areas people had not received water for more than 40 days.

He said: “People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity.

“Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli government told The Indepedent there is “no truth” in the claims, and said the shortages were down to faulty water lines.

They said: “Several hours ago, COGAT’s Civil Administration team have repaired a burst pipe line, which disrupted the water supply to the villages of Marda, Biddya, Jamma’in, Salfit and Tapuach. The water flow has been regulated and is currently up and running.

“Any effort to connect the disruptions with terror is mistaken and misleading.

“Given the failure to develop infrastructures as a result of the unwillingness on behalf of the Palestinians to convene the Joint Water Committee (JWC), there are problems in the water supply.”

Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories researcher, said the reports were “alarming”.

He told The Independent: “Israel already allows Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources in the occupied West Bank, with unlawful Israeli settlements getting almost unlimited water supplies which enable settlers to maintain lush gardens and even fill up numerous private swimming pools.

“Water is a basic need and a right. Mekorot should restore any water supplies to Palestinians it has cut off and the Israel authorities should end their discriminatory water policies, lifting all arbitrary restrictions it currently imposes on Palestinians’ access to this vital resource.”

According to UN guidelines, 7.5 litres per person per day is the minimum requirement under nornal conditions but in some areas of the Palestinian territories the minimum requirement is much higher.

The municipality of Jenin, several villages in Nablus and the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages claimed to have suffered cuts to their water supply.

Almost 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water, and require permission before collecting it themselves, according to a report by Amnesty International.

Since 1967, Israel has limited the water available to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since its forces occupied the territories.

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It’s World Water Day! Say No to Water Apartheid

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Ramah Kudaimi, March 22nd, 2014

Support Palestinian Water Rights

Today marks the start of the first International Week Against MekorotIsrael’s state-owned water company that is responsible for implementing "water apartheid" on Palestinians. 

Mekorot has been responsible for water rights violations and discrimination since the 1950s, depriving Palestinian communities from access to water. It provides vital support to Israel’s settlement enterprise, commits war crimes by pillaging Palestinians’ natural resources, and is a proud partner of the Jewish National Fund’s "Blueprint Negev" campaign to displace around 40,000 Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel in the Negev.

In 2005, Mekorot established a business arm to begin a process of international expansion. Several lucrative contracts have been signed in countries like the U.S., Cyprus, India, and Uganda. But civic groups are fighting back against rewarding Mekorot for its involvement in violations of international law and human rights. In Argentina, activists recently announced they succeeded in suspending the construction of a $170 million water regeneration plant. Vitens, the largest water supplier in the Netherlands, ended a contract with Mekorot just days after it was signed.

Starting today, World Water Day, through March 30, when Palestinians mark Land Day, PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, and the Land Defense Coalition are asking people worldwide to say no to water apartheid!

Take the following actions targeting Mekorot and other companies like SodaStream that are complicit in depriving Palestinians of their right to water by operating in a settlement

Watch Mekorot: An Apartheid Adventure. Share with your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.

On Twitter? Join the Twitter storm! Use #WorldWaterDay, #StopMekorot, and #BoycottSodaStream to share facts and links about Israeli violations of Palestinian water rights and the companies that support these abuses. We have put together sample tweets that you can use here.

On Facebook? Post this image on your profile by clicking here

Find other graphics to post here.

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Stop Mekorot, 3/22/14

mekorot-reason1

1. Mekorot operates a system of water apartheid: Mekorot has been responsible for water rights violations and discrimination since the 1950s when it built Israel’s national water carrier, which is diverting the Jordan River from the West Bank and Jordan to serve Israeli communities. At the same time it deprives the Palestinian communities from the possibility of access to water: Palestinian consumption in the OPT is about 70 litres a day per person – well below the 100 litres per capita daily recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – whereas Israeli daily per capita consumption, at about 300 litres, is about four times as much.

Mekorot has refused to supply water to Palestinian communities inside Israel, despite an Israeli high court ruling recognising their right to water. A French parliamentary report called these policies water apartheid.

mekorot-reason2a

2. Mekorot’s vital support for the illegal settlement enterprise: Mekorot support for colonial settlement has continued since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. The company took monopoly control over all water sources in the occupied territories, implementing policies that bolster Israeli settlements at the expense of Palestinian communities.

The United Nations report of the independent international fact-finding mission on the implications of the Israeli settlements on the rights of the Palestinian people as well as the latest report on the settlements by the Secretary-General of the UN denounce Mekorot’s role in the settlement enterprise.

All cooperation with Mekorot inherently benefits from or contributes to the illegal settlement enterprise. Dutch public water company Vitens states that “Whether it comes to knowledge about extraction of water or to the benefits that can be achieved with smart grids, these cannot be separated from what the UN writes about the policy of Mekorot (*) towards the Palestinian territories and the settlements.”

mekorot-reason3

3. Mekorot participates in the international crime of pillage of natural resources and wanton destruction of water infrastructure:

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Rafah Prep School Water Filter

Girls Preparatory School A, Rafah

A gift from the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and others, Dedicated to Karin Sandvik

 

More on the Maia Project from the Middle East Children’s Alliance:

  • Completed Maia Project Water Purification and Desalination Units, January 2014
  • Maia Project Photo Album
  •  

    Palestinian non-violent resistance leader speaks in Madison

    Veena Brekke, December 19, 2012

    On Sunday afternoon, December 16, citizens of the Madison area were fortunate to hear a presentation by Iyad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer and leader in non-violent protests currently on a four-month speaking tour of the United States. About 60 people gathered at Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg to view photos and videos and to listen to stories of successful organizing of grassroots non-violent protests against Israeli occupation in a West Bank farming village called Bil’in.

    Bil’in has recently become famous as the subject of the award-winning film, “5 Broken Cameras,” by Burnat’s brother Emad Burnat and Israeli director Guy Davidi.

    Since the 1967 war, Israel has illegally occupied and expanded its military presence in the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in defiance of UN Security Council resolution 242 and many others which demand “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the (1967) conflict.” It has placed nearly 500,000 illegal Israeli Jewish settlers on Palestinian land in direct violation of international law.

    In 2003, Israel began building a hugely controversial “separation wall” primarily on the Palestinian side of the “green line” between the West Bank and Israel proper. Burnat reported that the wall, which is 8 meters high in some places, has taken over half of Bil’in’s farm land.  It was in opposition to this wall that Bil’in citizens began their weekly marches to the fenced area.  Since 2005, Bil’in farmers have been joined by Israeli and International peace activists and protests have spread to about 20 other villages in the West Bank.  

    The videos showed creative methods used by from 200 to 4000 demonstrators every Friday and the violent response from Israeli soldiers. Demonstrators repeatedly endured injuries from tear gas rockets, chemical infused water, and rubber-coated metal bullets.  Burnat reported 40 deaths and 1,300 injured among all the villages. He argued that the goal of Israel’s separation wall is not security but the confiscation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlers, the theft of Palestinian water to supply them, and to put more Palestinians in prison.

    In a soft-spoken voice, Burnat explained that the “olive tree is the life of farmers in this area.”  He showed videos of demonstrators chaining themselves to olive trees and of the burning and bulldozing of olive groves, noting sadly that many Palestinian farmers who used to sell olive oil now have to purchase it.  As a result, over 60 percent of Palestinians are unemployed in Bil’in.

    Burnat graphically described the hardship of Palestinian farmers and their families under the Israeli occupation: diminished farm land due to the separation wall, Jewish-only roads and settlements; lack of freedom of movement due to checkpoints and roadblocks; running water limited to one day per week or less; and nighttime curfews and raids that especially terrorize village children.  He observed that the Israeli settlement enterprise has now made it impossible for an Israel-Palestine two-state solution for peace in the region.

    Burnat was asked how the Palestinians can maintain their commitment to non-violent protests in the midst of a very militarized Israeli opposition. Burnat said he finds hope from the solidarity with the other Palestinian villages, the support of the people who join from outside, and his firm belief that they will succeed in ending the occupation.  He cited the success of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi in ending oppression.

    Burnat was also asked if he was troubled by the violent means used by others such as rockets shot out of Gaza. Burnat observed that Hamas is always blamed for violence when, in fact, the Israeli government wants to provoke such violence, such as when Israel recently assassinated the Hamas representative who was involved in peace negotiation talks. He asked the audience to remember that Hamas has been in existence for 25 years whereas the violent Israeli occupation of Palestine is 65 years old. He noted that in Bil’in, Israel has even sent “special forces” disguised as Palestinians to throw stones in order to justify the violent response from the Israeli soldiers.

    Burnat holds on to the hope that through non-violent grassroots movements, unity among Palestinians, and pressure from the international community Israel can be forced to end its siege and occupation of Palestine. Burnat also stated that the only chance for permanent peace is through a one-state solution with equal rights for all where “we can all live together.”  He invited people to Bil’in as “all the families will welcome you,” reporting the Palestinians are not against Jewish people, only against the illegal occupation.

    When asked what Americans can do to support the Palestinian people, Burnat pointed out that Palestinians view the United States as part of the occupation, not just helping the occupation. He noted that most of the weapons used against the Bil’in villagers are made in the USA. He asked for Americans to divest their support for companies that financially benefit from occupation.  Without the billions of dollars and support from America, Burnat said, Israel would not be able to continue with its oppressive policies.

    VOICES OF CONSCIENCE: DELEGATION to THE GAZA STRIP

    Interfaith Peace-Builders, November 5, 2012

    November 5, 2012 – Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) is pleased to announce that our 21 member delegation to the Gaza Strip passed safely through the Rafah Crossing Monday morning and is now safely in the Gaza Strip.

    Interfaith Peace-Builders has sent more than 44 delegations to Palestine/Israel since 2001. This is the first IFPB delegation to enter the Gaza Strip since 2003. Like other IFPB delegations, its purpose is to educate North Americans about the region and deepen their understanding of its conflicts.

    On the eve of the Presidential Election in the United States, the US-brokered peace process continues to show few results and US military aid to the region continues to flow unabated.

    This delegation focuses on the realities of Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip. Participants have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Palestinians throughout the territory regarding their hopes for peace and the role of the United States, the US government, and other international actors, in promoting a resolution to the conflict.

    The Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to the Gaza Strip is led by Michael Brown and Cindy Corrie. Michael Brown worked off and on in the Gaza Strip between 1993 and 2000 for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. A former IFPB board member, Michael continues to work today on the media and Palestine. Michael led an IFPB delegation in 2008. Cindy Corrie is the mother of human rights activist and observer Rachel Corrie who on March 16, 2003, was killed by an Israeli military Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.  Motivated by her daughter’s work and sacrifice, Cindy Corrie has dedicated herself to the pursuit of justice and peace in the Middle East and has visited Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza on numerous occasions. She is also president of the board of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, inspired by her daughter.

    del44gaza
    a photo of the delegation in Gaza City

    The delegation includes the following people:

    Diane Adkin – Camas, Washington
    Michele Bahl – Madison, Wisconsin
    Carol Barr – Madison, Wisconsin

    Michael Brown – Asheville, North Carolina
    Marsha Carlton – Davis, California
    Craig and Cindy Corrie – Olympia, Washington
    Gary Doupe – Bainbridge, New York
    Rich Forer – Yardley, Pennsylvania
    Joyce Guinn – Germantown, Wisconsin
    Maya Harris – Olympia, Washington
    Wendy Hartley – Nevada City, California
    Darlene Jones-Owens – Carrollton, Georgia
    Declan Keogh – Decatur, Georgia
    Ralph and Emily McCoy – Boone, North Carolina
    Donna Nassor – Moonachie, New Jersey
    Karen Peterson – Horseheads, New York
    Cathy Sultan – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
    Colleen Toomey – North Andover, Massachusetts
    Sonja Wentz – Olympia, Washington

    Reports and Photos from IFPB’s November 2012 Delegation to the Gaza Strip:
    Photos
    Report 1: Greetings from Gaza, Palestine
    Report 2: Occupation is "An Ongoing Terror"
    Report 3: Bringing Gaza With Us
    Follow-Up: Delegates in Action!

    In addition to the reports linked from this page, IFPB delegation participants may be blogging and tweeting about their experiences. Like the trip reports posted here, individual blogs and tweets reflect the views of delegation participants only, and not necessarily Interfaith Peace-Builders or partners.

    Blogs by delegation members:
    Maya Harris may be blogging here
    Cindy Corrie may be blogging here

    Interfaith Peace-Builders believes in the power of eye-witness experience and transformation. Given the opportunity to speak directly with Israelis and Palestinians, delegates return to the United States better informed, more energized, and with a deeper understanding of the possibilities for true justice in the Middle East.

    Upon their return to the United States, delegates will share their experiences with the public, the media, and their political representatives.

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