October 19, 2009
In the South Hebron Hills of Palestine, 3500 Palestinians are suffering from the most extreme lack of water. They have no water infrastructure, face high water hauling costs, and must contend with Israeli soldiers and settlers destroying their road access and even poisoning their small wells.
Even the water barrels to collect any rainwater, on the roofs in the West Bank, are routinely fouled with feces and urine. Some settlements purposefully foul the water so that by the time it reaches the lower levels where the Palestinians live, it is dangerous let alone unpotable.
On September 26th, 2009, some 100 activists with support from Israeli, Palestinian and international organizations formed a water convoy to deliver water as a humanitarian and political act.
In the South Hebron Hills, south of road no. 317, about 3,500 Palestinians live at present in various forms of rural localities villages, hamlets and caves. Their livelihood consists of herding sheep and goats, dry farming and olive groves. Israel eyes this region ~ hundreds of thousands of dunam meaning to annex it in the future and create territorial continuity all the way to the green line around Arad-En Gedi.
To realize its annexation plans, Israel wants the entire area of the South Hebron Hills clean of Palestinians, the legal owners of the land. In order to make life impossible for the residents, the authorities harass the local population in numerous different ways: administrative and court orders, house demolitions, home-cave demolitions, destruction of wells, tracks and harvests, and the declaration of vast areas as firing zones forbidden entry.
The extremist Jewish settlers, primarily Russian and American, of the area also serve as the regime's long arm, and assault the residents with acts of severe physical violence and murder, uprooting of fruit trees and the destruction of crops, purposefully ruining waters, burning homes, and general day to day harassment. Even adults will harass small Palestinian children walking to and from school.
East of road no. 317, Palestinian localities have no water infrastructure, while the Jewish settlements in the area are regularly and amply supplied through the water pipe grid laid down by Mekorot national water company. Settlers engage in intense agriculture such as hothouse plants that consume enormous quantities of water. While some of these settlers nurture private lawns, the neighboring Palestinians sheep and goat die of thirst across the fence. Often there are public pools as well.
Residents of this area depend on the rainwater that fills water holes during the wet season, and water supplied by tankers costing up to 50 shekels per one cubic meter. The quantity of water consumed per person here is estimated at 15 liters a day, a far cry from the average water consumption of Palestinians in the West Bank, about 66 liters a day, and in the Jewish settlements and Israel proper 236 liters a day per person.
According to the latest 2009 World Bank Report, West Bank Palestinians, per person, use 75 cubic meters of water per year; in Gaza, 125. Israelis use 240.
Palestinians are only able to use 20% of the water reservoir in the West Bank.
Water controlled by Israel in the West Bank is routinely shut off to Palestinian villages and cities in the driest months.