Water restrictions in Area C threaten to displace villages

By Charlie Hoyle | Maan News Agency | April 14, 2013

A general view of Tuba, home to 145 people, in the south Hebron hills. (MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)

A general view of Tuba, home to 145 people, in the south Hebron hills.
(MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)

MASAFER YATTA (Ma’an) — “Life is hard, but I won’t leave the village,” Zahira al-Jundi says.Despite winter rainfall which has painted green patches on the rolling south Hebron hills, the 145 residents of Tuba face a daily struggle to access the most basic levels of water needed to survive.

Like 70 percent of Palestinian communities in Area C, Tuba is not connected to the water network.

The weekly sight of a water tanker negotiating the rocky sand-colored terrain to reach the village is a welcome relief for residents, but only a temporary measure to ease the humanitarian impact of an acute water shortage.

Located in 30,000 dunams of land designated by Israel as a closed military area, or Firing Zone 918, Israel’s Civil Administration forbids all construction in Tuba. Villagers live in caves and tents and depend entirely on cisterns and tankered water to meet their daily needs.

“These communities live in conditions similar to that of a post-disaster situation, such as an earthquake or tsunami,” Advocacy Task Force Officer for EWASH, Alex Abu Ata, tells Ma’an.

“People affected by natural disasters are forced to live in tents and have little access to water or food. They basically only have what is provided to them through aid.”

International NGOs implement humanitarian projects in the south Hebron hills but cannot obtain authorization from Israel to build long-term water infrastructure.

“They can only really delay the problem, without ever solving it,” Abu Ata says.


Tuba resident draws water from a cistern. (MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)

Between 2009 and 2011, Israel’s military destroyed 173 water, sanitation and hygiene structures in the West Bank including 40 wells, 57 rainwater collection cisterns and at least 20 toilets and sinks, OCHA says.

In 2012, dozens of international aid agencies issued a collective call for Israel to halt the “continuous targeted destruction” of cisterns in Area C, labeling the demolitions a “clear breach” of international humanitarian law.

“If communities in Area C were allowed to develop real infrastructure they would have water by now, like all nearby Israeli settlements,” Abu Ata says.

The Israeli water company Mekorot has built pipelines in the south Hebron hills to service settlements, outposts and agricultural industries but Palestinian villages, with the exception of al-Tuwani, have not been allowed to connect to the network.

“Israel’s policy in the West Bank is to exercise pressure on communities in Area C to force them to leave. Demolishing water infrastructure is one of the means, as is harassment, and Israel pressures vulnerable communities, the poorest communities, in an effort to displace them,” Abu Ata says.

The discrepancy in water consumption between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the West Bank is vast. EWASH estimates that around 9,400 Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley enjoy water allocation equal to almost a third of the consumption of the entire population of 2.5 million Palestinians.

Israelis, including settlers, have access to 300 liters of water per day, according to EWASH, while the West Bank average is around 70 liters, below the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 100 liters per day for basic sanitation, hygiene and drinking.

In the south Hebron hills, average water consumption varies between 10-60 liters per day, similar to consumption levels in sub-Saharan Africa or Haiti.


Tankers supply water to residents in the south Hebron hills.
(MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)

Around 10 kilometers southwest of Tuba, the village of Imneizil faces similar challenges accessing enough water to survive.

Several of the 14 water cisterns built by international NGOs have received demolition orders, and the village school received a stop-work order in January 2012.

Solar panels which provide electricity to run the pumps of the water cisterns have demolition orders pending and a sanitation unit for boys received a stop-work order in 2012, placing pressure on the 500-member community.

“Our work is very limited, and we do it in low visibility because otherwise we won’t get permission from Israel,” Palestinian water engineer Fadi Shamisti tells Ma’an.

The nearest filling point for water in Imneizil is over 12 kilometers away, Shamisti says, meaning that if the village’s water cisterns were demolished, residents would face a huge physical and financial burden to access enough water for their community and livestock.

“Water is an essential commodity for people, and water therefore becomes a pressure tool to evacuate the area of people, as high prices create economic difficulties,” Shamisti says.

With tankered water costing from between $8 to $12 per cubic meter, and rainwater collected over winter rarely lasting more than a few months, the community would have little choice but to relocate if demolition orders on water infrastructure were carried out.

“The solution is simple,” Shamisti says. “An Israeli settlement lies only one kilometer from both the communities of Tuba and Imneizil, yet they are unable to connect to the water network.”

Fadwa Baroud, an information officer with the European Commission, told Ma’an that Area C communities were at risk of “forced displacement” due to the difficulty of obtaining permits from Israel for the development of water facilities.

But with international aid projects facing demolition and Israel’s water policy in Area C clearly designed to exclude Palestinian communities, villagers are well aware of their vulnerability.

“Whatever they try to do, we will stay here. This is our land,” Tuba resident Ibrahim al-Jundi says. “This is the place we were raised, we have no other place to go.”

A young boy pictured in front of a man-made cave in Tuba.
(MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)

Palestine | No Water, No Sewerage

“Access to safe water is a fundamental human need & therefore a basic human right.” ~Kofi Annan Information portal about the Human Rights to Water & Sanitation

Gaza | Continuously without water, without sewage, even by force because Israel opens a dam.

Everything is being done, to make life in Gaza impossible. Gaza remains Worlds Largest open Air prison, an israel an an occupier, even neglects rights of the “concentrationcamp”-people they are lawfully to respect, as per International and Humanitairian laws is obligated to even as an occupying force.

As a “Disengaged Occupier” (Report from GISHA), Israel uses deprivation of water as a mean of ethnic cleansing. Access to water, restricting or making the quality causing water borne diseases are to be called deliberate and common policy rather than obeying to at least minimal standards of humanitarian or morals. Even causing deaths, which can be classified as “Avoidable Mortality” also known as “Excess Deaths”: The difference between statisticly proof of normal deathtrates, compared to the reality and difference due to bad ruling or care, even under occupation in which an occupier has also obligations under International Law and is responsible for the continuation of basic needs and supply of such. Reality is, Israel does all not to provide this.

These and many more policies like the calories per head-policy for Gaza, result in a flagrant violation of Human Rights and is a  cause of many illnesses and even deaths which are silenced. Media coverage of Israeli attacks or damage on Gaza and West Bank tend to focus on the immediate damage inflicted. Like a well is destroyed, or polluted. Like a dam which is deliberately flooded. But the excess deaths and diseases due to the policies are silenced by all means.

From the news: Occupation opens dams flooding Palestinian homes in Abasan (nov 4, 2011)


January 19, 2010 at 13:20 (Gaza, Health Crisis, Israel, Palestine, Photography, zionist harassment)
Gaza flooded after Israel opens dam gates Israel has opened the floodgates of one of its dams in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, flooding Palestinian houses and causing severe damage.

The Israeli authorities opened the dam’s floodgates without any prior warning or coordination with local authorities in Gaza, stunning the residents of the area, the Press TV correspondent in Gaza reported late on Monday.

There has been heavy rain in the region over the past 24 hours. It seems the Israeli authorities could not handle the huge amount of rainwater and decided to open the floodgates without prior warning.

Because Gaza is located in a low-lying area and the elevation decreases on the way to the Mediterranean Sea, water gushed into the area, flooding two Palestinian villages and displacing a hundred Gazan families. The locals say Israel intentionally caused the floods, the Press TV correspondent said.

The waters from the dam, called the Valley of Gaza, flooded houses in Johr al-Deek village, which is southeast of Gaza City, and Nusirat in the eastern part of the territory, where the Al-Nusirat refugee camp is also located. The Valley of Gaza is about 8 kilometers long. It starts on the eastern Gaza border with Israel and ends in the Mediterranean.

The houses of many Palestinians have been flooded and a number of people are trapped inside or on their roofs, while many have also gone missing, the Press TV correspondent said. Rescue teams are using small boats to evacuate the trapped people.

Hamas has condemned the act as a war crime and has called on all concerned parties to intervene and offer assistance to the locals.The flooding has made life more difficult for the Gazans, especially for those still living in tents because their homes were destroyed in the December 2008-January 2009 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

In the war, more than 1,400 people were killed, mostly women and children, and over 10,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, forcing at least 500 families to live in tents.

Very little progress is seen in reconstruction of the devastated areas in the Gaza Strip, mostly due to the Israeli blockade, which has prevented the delivery of building materials to the coastal enclave.

From the Palestine Telegraph
Israel opens Dam so Gaza submerges

Gaza – Many Palestinian houses were under water in Central Gaza after Israel opened a closed dam on Tuesday. Israeli authorities opened the “Al-Wadi” dam without prior notice after heavy rainfall on the area.

Seventy citizens were rescued by Civil defense staffs. Medical sources said that 9 citizens were injured and transferred to Gaza hospitals. They said that rescue teams rushed to the area and evacuated all the residents who live in distance of 500-600m in Al-Moghraqa, central Gaza Strip. The minister of Social Affairs Ministry in Gaza, Ahmed Al-Kord, said that they opened Kafer Yasef School for 100 evacuated families. He added that the ministry provided them with the need supplies of food and sheets.

In the West Bank demolitions of wells, springs & water structures

List of water structures in the West Bank demolished by Israel from 2009 to 2011 (source: UN OCHA)
Demolition date Community Governorate Type Number Est. people affected
08-06-09 Al-Baqa / al-Bweira Hebron well 7 80
03-09-09 Al-Baqa Hebron cistern 3 101
11-02-10 Al-Bassa Hebron spring 5 100
24-02-10 Kafr Dan Jenin well 5 166
14-07-10 Al-Baqa Hebron cistern 1 17
15-07-10 Abu al-Urgan Hebron cistern 1 20
19-07-10 Al-Baqa Hebron cistern 1 17
02-08-10 Wadi al-Ghrous Hebron well 1 50
04-08-10 Jabal Joher Hebron well 1 90
04-08-10 Wadi al-Joz Hebron well 1 9
11-10-10 Khallet al-Warda Hebron cistern 1 23
27-10-10 Deir Abu Dief Jenin well 4 11,583
30-11-10 Ar-Rashayida Bethlehem cistern 1 50
14-12-10 Kassem ad-Daraj/Um ad-Daraj Hebron cistern 14 950
29-12-10 At-Tur Jerusalem cistern 2 26
19-01-11 Al-Issawiya Jerusalem well 1 4
17-02-11 Khallet al-Furn Hebron cistern 4 29
22-02-11 Susiya Hebron cistern 2 41
02-03-11 al-Ghrous, Baqa Hebron cistern 2 7
23-03-11 Ar-Rashayida Bethlehem cistern 2 111
07-04-11 al-Aqaba Tubas water stream 1
07-04-11 Khallet al-Fahma Bethlehem cistern 2 37
05-05-11 Susiya Hebron cistern 2 94
26-05-11 Idhna Hebron cistern 2 47
29-05-11 Kafr Dan Jenin well 8 40
14-06-11 al-Harayeq Hebron cistern 2 40
23-06-11 Arab ar-Rashayida Bethlehem cistern 1 41
05-07-11 al-Khader Bethlehem cistern 1 30
12-07-11 an-Nassariya Nablus well 3 37
08-09-11 an-Nassariya Nablus well 3 37
13-09-11 an-Nassariya Nablus well 1 10
13-09-11 Bait Hasan Nablus well 1 285
13-09-11 Tammun Tubas well 1 92
04-10-11 Kufr ad-dik Salfit well 1 12
04-10-11 Beit Ula Hebron cistern 4 80
17-11-11 Udeissa Hebron cistern 1 11
17-11-11 al-Baqa’a Hebron water pool 1 18
24-11-11 Idhna Hebron well 2 34
08-12-11 Beit Ula Hebron cistern 1 8
21-12-11 Kufr ad-dik Salfit well 3 75
22-12-11 Idhna Hebron well 4 116
22-12-11 Idhna Hebron cistern 3 0
22-12-11 Idhna Hebron tank 2 0
22-12-11 al-Majnuna Hebron water pool 10 500

Updates 2012

  • France accuses Israel of water ‘apartheid’ in West Bank | Haaretz | Jan 16, 2012
  • List of water structures demolished by Israel in the West Bank from 2009 to 2011List
  • For more info read “The Right to Water – A Policy of Denial and Forced Displacement in the OPT”  – Report Al-Haq
  • May 23, 2012 | Water apartheid leaves Palestinian children ill | Electronic Intifada
  • June 5, 2012 | In a recent report , Al Mezan center for Human Rights facts are related that  Israel’s blockade damaged the environment in Gaza | Report
  • June 8, 2012 | Water desalination projects to solve Gaza’s problems: a wolf in sheep’s clothing? | Electronic Intifada
  • June 14, 2012 | Gaza water too contaminated to drink, say charities | BBC


Action Alert

Links & Resources

Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza StripFacts & Statistics | Report

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: