Gallons for the rich (Israelis) puddles for the poor (Palestinians)

August 1, 2012
Sarah Benton

This posting has 4 items:
1) AFP Settlers taking over Palestinian springs: UN report;
2) The Nation (Thailand) Water wars will be the future;
3) Amira Hass Using water as a weapon in the West Bank;
4) Ma’an Israeli settlers draining Palestinian water supply;

A man in Gaza collects rainwater from a flooded road; a report  by charities Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians says that the levels of contamination are more often than not ten times what is safe for consumption reports Russia Today.  Photo Reuters/Goran Tomasevic.

Settlers taking over Palestinian springs: UN report
March 19, 2012

JERUSALEM — Israeli settlers have taken over dozens of natural springs in the West Bank, limiting or preventing Palestinian access to much-needed water sources, a United Nations report said on Monday.

The report produced by the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at least 30 springs across the West Bank had been completely taken over by settlers, with Palestinians unable to access them at all.

In most instances, the report said, “Palestinians have been deterred from accessing the springs by acts of intimidation, threats and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers.”

The report said an OCHA survey carried out in 2011 identified a total of 56 springs that were under total or partial control of Israeli settlers, most in the part of the West Bank known as Area C, which is under full Israeli civil and military control.

“Springs have remained the single largest water source for irrigation and a significant source for watering livestock” for Palestinians, OCHA said, noting that some springs also provide water for domestic consumption. “The loss of access to springs and adjacent land reduced the income of affected farmers, who either stop cultivating the land or face a reduction in the productivity of their crops.”

The report said in most cases where settlers were trying to limit Palestinian access to springs, they have undertaken to turn the area into a tourist attraction, constructing pools, picnic areas and signs carrying a Hebrew name for the spring.
“Such works were carried out without building permits,” the report said. OCHA said the takeover of springs was an extension of settlement activity in the West Bank, which it pointed out is illegal under international law. And it added that settler actions including “trespass, intimidation and physical assault, stealing of private property, and construction without a building permit,” are also violations of Israeli law. “Yet, the Israel authorities have systematically failed to enforce the law on those responsible for these acts and to provide Palestinians with any effective remedy,” it said.

OCHA called on Israel to stop the expansion of settlements, “restore Palestinian access to the water springs taken over by settlers,” and to “conduct effective investigations into cases of settler violence and trespass.”

Water wars will be the future

By Charles Frederickson, The Nation (Thailand)
July 31, 2012

BANGKOK–Water is our most precious natural resource, vital for all forms of life.

It covers 70.9 per cent of the Earth’s surface, but only 2 per cent is fresh water, which must be conserved. Demand for renewable fresh water has already outstripped supply. The critical shortage affects every function related to human existence: drinking, bathing, cleaning, cooking and growing crops.

Yet, as populations and faddish hi-tech innovations go out of control, greed continues – polluting, diverting, pumping and wasting our limited water supply at an expedient level.

The West Bank settler population has mushroomed from 110,000 to 320,000. Of the water available from West Bank aquifers, Israel uses 73 per cent, West Bank Palestinians use 17 per cent and Jewish settlers use 10 per cent. While 10-14 per cent of Palestine’s GDP is agricultural, 90 per cent of its farmers must rely on antiquated rain-fed methods. Israel’s agriculture accounts for only 3 per cent of its GPD, but Israel irrigates more than 50 per cent of its own land.

Under international law, it is illegal for Israel to expropriate the water of the Occupied Palestinian Territories for use by its own citizens, and doubly illegal to expropriate it for increasingly aggressive settlers. Furthermore, Israel owes Palestinians reparations for past and continuing use and abuse of water resources. Regarding the Jordan River system, the Palestinians have no access and remain unconnected to any water infrastructure whatsoever.

The Israeli-Palestinian stalemate has featured diversion tactics to wage a bullyrag war with Iran at the expense of a negotiated settlement. This, even though the tentatively agreed-upon key components are in place: mutual recognition, borders, security, control of Jerusalem, occupation, settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement, the refugee question and water rights.

Palestinians justifiably contend that “water war” politics is just part of the demeaning and humiliating injustices of occupation. Issues that adversely affect West Bank residents’ health, hygiene and rights should be addressed in an international forum. But, without fair-minded outside intervention, they undoubtedly won’t be.

Using water as a weapon in the West Bank

The Civil Administration is protecting a law that its title in contemporary Hebrew is ‘keeping most of the West Bank Palestinian-free.’

By Amira Hass, Ha’aretz
August 01, 2012

Events in Area C are a burning issue for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot. More correctly, he is infuriated by what he and the Civil Administration bureaucracy term “Palestinian illegal construction.”

What especially sets his blood boiling, at least according to European representatives who have spent time with him, is that some of this very construction – of facilities like cisterns, solar panels and school buildings – is being funded by European countries, who see it as a necessary humanitarian move.

The commander’s position is discernible among his subordinates, who go out to the field to carry it out with enthusiastic obedience.

Gideon Levy has already reported on one Avi, an inspection coordinator for the Civil Administration who at the height of a heat wave confiscated water containers in the Jordan Valley that were the only water sources for hundreds of Palestinian and Bedouin families (“Water torture,” July 8 ). Why do they need water containers in the first place? Because it’s Israel’s perfectly lawful policy to deny many Palestinian communities access to the water grid.

In the southern West Bank, it’s inspector Alon. Two weeks before the High Court of Justice was to hear a petition against the demolition orders the Civil Administration issued for the shacks in the Palestinian hamlet of Zanuta, Alon went south to also deliver a demolition order against two wells.

Exactly how fond Dangot’s bureaucracy is of using thirst as a tool for law enforcement we can learn from an affidavit submitted to the High Court. It was written by Raziel Goldstein, who is responsible for implementation and enforcement in the Civil Administration’s inspection unit. The affidavit was attached to the state’s notification to the High Court that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the destruction of eight Palestinian villages so the land could be used for military exercises.

Goldstein writes as follows: “According to information available to the inspection unit and the Central Command, since 2009 it is possible to identify a gradually increasing trend of support and strengthening of the population in Area C by the Palestinian Authority, with the help of international organizations. This support manifests itself in various ways, starting with the supply of resources that enable staying in the field, such as water containers, sheds and water tanks, through legal help.

“Thus we are able to identify a significant increase in the dimensions of incursions into firing zones, both in terms of the number of trespassers and the scope of construction that they have carried out. This phenomenon poses a substantial security risk.”

The Shin Bet-type terminology alone reflects the ethical and mental perversion that has inflicted this system. Not that this is new. Five years ago, when the COGAT was Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, the system was full of creative ways to fulfill the government’s order to allow only humanitarian traffic through the Gaza crossings. That’s why there were periods in Gaza when you couldn’t find toilet paper or sanitary napkins. That’s how the system decided that Gazans could not eat pasta or hummus with pine nuts, nor could they use shampoo that also contained conditioner. The industrious officer-clerks even drew up a draft setting the minimum calorie intake for every Gazan.

How can such ethical and mental perversion develop, that turn sheds and cisterns into a terror threat that merits the gathering of intelligence? It’s a combination of uniforms, lack of transparency, real estate gluttony and biblical fads. It’s true – they are only obeying orders. But it’s also true that they are the real government that rules over the Palestinians. It’s a clique of clerks and officers that by the power of their weapons imposes itself on a population that never elected them. There’s no transparency or accountability, only a sure promotion through the ranks until they get to manage some corporation.

Honorable justices, Zanuta is not alone and its “solution” is not to be isolated. From the northern Jordan Valley to the south Hebron Hills, the Civil Administration is protecting a law that its title in contemporary Hebrew is “keeping most of the West Bank Palestinian-free.” Your honors, this is the policy you’re being asked to ratify, unless you finally gather courage and wave a black flag.

Attili: Israeli settlers draining Palestinian water supply
Ma’an news
July 29, 2012

RAMALLAH — Israel allocates 70 times more water to each settler than to the average Palestinian in the West Bank, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority said Sunday.

At a press conference in Ramallah, Shaddad Attili said Palestinians received 105 million cubic meters of water, less than the amount allocated in the 1995 Oslo Accords and around a quarter of the 400 million cubic meters needed according to international standards.

Israel controls most of the water resources in the West Bank and refuses to increase the amount of water it allocates to Palestinians, Attili said, forcing Palestinians to buy water from Israel.

Water is a final status issue in negotiations with Israel and postponing the issue to final talks has created a water crisis in Gaza and the West Bank, the official said.

The Palestinian Water Authority has had to buy water and is billions of shekels in debt, Attili said. The Palestinian Authority, in the midst of its own fiscal crisis, has not helped with the debt, he added.

Meanwhile in Gaza, 95 percent of the water is not fit for human consumption, and sea water — contaminated with sewage — is leaking into the over-extracted coastal basin, threatening long-term problems of kidney disease. Within two years there may be no drinking water left in Gaza, Attili said.

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