Some 2 million Gazans suffer from a constant shortage of water, which gets worse in summer. The tap water is salty, polluted and undrinkable. Much has been written about Gaza’s water crisis and collapsing infrastructure under the Israeli blockade. Here, five Gazans describe their unbearable daily reality: the endless pursuit of water, the damage the salty water causes to their physical and mental health and to their belongings, and the financial burden of buying drinking water they can barely afford.
In recent weeks, Israeli soldiers have deliberately fired at water tanks in Kafr Qadum during weekly protests held against the closure of the village’s eastern exit. Since April, soldiers have punctured at least 24 tanks on rooftops. This is sheer abuse and constitutes collective punishment for protesting. This conduct is especially grave given the high level of hygiene needed to fight the coronavirus. The shooting continues unbated, indicating support by commanders in the field and conveying disregard for residents’ lives and property.
Maryam Abu Yusef, 67, a mother of five from a-Nuseirat R.C in Gaza, has to plan her life around the limited hours when her home receives electricity and water. Both vital services are provided only once every few days, and not always together. The family does not receive enough water, and what they do get is unfit for drinking. This forces them pay large sums of money to purchase additional water privately.
Residents of Nablus lack sufficient water all year round and especially in summer. The shortage has grown worse in recent years due to low rainfall. Israel prevents the Palestinians from digging new wells and refuses to sell them more water to ease the suffering. As a result of this policy, in summer residents must purchase water privately, at high costs, and use it for essential needs only. Israel abuses its control of all water sources between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean by subjecting Palestinians to a permanent shortage of water.
Yesterday, 10 Sept. 2017, Israeli Civil Administration personnel came with security forces to the community of Jabal al-Baba that lies near ‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem, and confiscated two trucks with building material donated by an aid organization for fixing the access path to the community. The forces slashed the community’s main water pipe, leaving residents without water, and damaged its power network. This follows the confiscation of the community’s preschool in late August.
On Jul. 19, military and Civil Administration forces confiscated two water tanks in Kh. Tall al-Himma in the northern Jordan Valley, along with a pump from a spring used as the community’s main source of water. Solar panels were confiscated there on Jul. 5. The forces then cut a pipe used to bring water from a natural spring to a reservoir in the community of Kh. Um al-Jmal, used for livestock and irrigation. The cruel treatment of these communities, which Israel refuses to connect to the water system, is particularly brazen in the current scorching heat of the Jordan Valley.
In Jan. and Feb. 2017 Israeli authorities demolished water supply infrastructure in two West Bank areas. In the southern West Bank: 8 cisterns used by farmers and shepherds. In the Jordan Valley: authorities twice demolished a pipe supplying water to three small farming and shepherding communities. Since occupying the West Bank 50 years ago, Israel has controlled most of its water resources and ignored the severe shortages suffered by local Palestinian communities. It promotes only infrastructure that serves settlers, and demolishes facilities developed by Palestinians in Area C, in order to force them out of the area.
Today, 13 February 2017, B’Tselem released a new interactive documentary entitled “The Invisible Walls of Occupation”. Viewers are invited on a virtual tour of the Palestinian village of Burqah, a rural suburb of the city of Ramallah that has become cut off from its urban center through various restrictions imposed by Israel. The documentary has Burqah residents leading viewers on a virtual tour of their village. The project depicts the story of the village and illustrates various aspects of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. The project was co-produced by B’Tselem and Canadian digital studio Folklore, and is based on a B’Tselem report by the same name.
The report B’Tselem published today shows how Israel has been taking over Palestinian rural space, fragmenting it, dispossessing its residents of land and water, and handing over these areas to settlers. The process is illustrated through a case study of three villages in the Nablus District - ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem - telling what these communities have undergone since Israel established the Elon Moreh settlement nearby. Through this case study, the report illustrates a broader policy Israel has been implementing throughout the West Bank for decades, and in which the settlers play a key role.
In recent weeks, the military has held several maneuvers in residential areas or grazing land belonging to Palestinian communities. Israel claims that the areas are “firing zones,” despite the fact that these communities have lived and worked on the land for many years. The repeated displacement threatens the ability of residents to continue living in the communities. As an occupying power, Israel may not use land for general military purposes, and certainly must not displace the residents or damage their livelihood on these grounds.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.