Visits to Villages, Tue 24.8.10, Morning
Today's visit was a continuation of last week's tour. This time we came to see the things they told us last week and also take pictures. Dalia G. came equipped with a video camera. She took pictures and interviewed the people.
Before we left, they told us again about the plight they were in because of water deficiency. The situation is this:
The two villages of Kafr ad Dik and Buruqin, which together have a population of about 10.000 people, get from Mekorot [Israel National Water Co.] 350 cubic meter of water per day, which is a liter and a half an hour per person. The International Health Organization has specified the quantity of 100 liters of water a day per person as the minimal quantity required for healthy life. In these villages a person gets 30 liters of water a day.
The water from Mekorot gets to the water tower of the village. The village is divided into 6 sections and each section gets water from the tower every 16 days. Since this isn't enough, every house has a dugout hole for collecting rainwater. This water, collected on the house roof, is usually polluted. Having no other alternative, they drink it in spite of the fact that it is the cause of many illnesses in the village. There is also a possibility to buy water from tankers that bring the water from other villages, but only the well-off can afford it. (The cost is IS40.00 for a cubic meter.)
According to our hosts, the village sits on a huge water reservoir but most of it is exploited by Mekorot and transferred to the settlements, while they, as mentioned, get only minimal quantity.
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah turned to the Israeli Authorities with the request to enlarge the quantity of water that is transferred to the village. They were told that they would act on the request only after a pipe system was installed in the village. However, the change after installing the pipe system was negligible: only 70 cubic liters were added to the 280 they had gotten before, which is really ridiculous. (In the local distribution they now get 15 cubic meters of water instead of 12 every 3 days).
On of the people we met in the village said, "They distribute water here like in jail. Two glasses of water a day per person. It's not only occupation. It's evil. Are we in South Africa? Where do we live?"
On our way we passed by some beautiful houses. Our host explained that those houses belonged to people who worked in Israel or lived in Saudi Arabia. We saw a beautiful house next to the remains of a house that had been demolished because it was in territory C.
In Buruqin, the neighbouring village, there is a whole area destined to be demolished for the same reason. Rumors have it that the plan is to build the extension of the industrial area of Ariel there. All in all, it is not quite clear where territories A and B end and where C starts. In some cases there are houses, half of which belong to territory B and the other half to C.
Site No. 1: Sewage and garbage.
"Rivers" of sewage and garbage flow from the settlements into the village. The first "river" comes to Buruqin from the industrial area of Ariel. It makes its way from the other side of the mountain straight into the spring of the village. We stood on top of the mountain and saw the flow. Medical documents attest to the fact that the water causes health damage. As time passes, the sewage water forces more ways and permeates through the rocks. It is feared that in this way the sewage water will also get to the only usable spring in the village of Kafr ad Dik. Close to the sewage "river" there are a few garbage sites, where the remains of tires from the Barkan Industry are dumped and burned, which is also where the garbage from the renovation of houses in the settlements is dumped. The second "river" can be seen from the other side of the mountain. One can see how the sewage flows from Barkan down the mountain and continues its way in a pipe below road 5 straight to the lands of the two neighbouring villages of Buruqin and Kafr ad Dik.
Close to the sewage we saw a herd of cattle grazing and drinking the filthy sewage water. The consumption of both the meat and the milk is forbidden. However, they probably manage to market it in places we don't know about. The village itself has no adequate sewage system and every house has its own cesspit.
Site 2: Water
Water holes and water meters:
We saw the water holes in private houses, in school, in the mosque and in the council building. The rainwater flows from the gutters installed on the roofs into the holes in the ground where it collects. The water is pumped from the holes into tanks put on the roofs, from which it is piped to the taps in the house. As mentioned before, this water is not clean. At a school we visited, the head of the council had to order to stop using the water hole after sewage water permeated it. Today water is brought to the village in tankers. The water meters that are there don't work because most of the time no water passes in the pipes. We saw the "dead" water meters. Since the village has no adequate sewage system and each house digs its own cesspit, the water holes are filthy.
Site 3: The village spring
There is one spring in the village, surrounded by trees and greenery. The water from this spring is pumped into tankers and only a scant quantity remains. At the moment there is not enough to water the trees and the other plants around it. A greenhouse that in the winter gets water from this spring is deserted all summer and will start operating again only in winter. A considerable part of the water permeates through the rocks and is lost. The village people are interested in getting it fixed but Israel doesn't give them the permission to do it. As a result, the permeating water gets to a reservoir on a lower level and from there supplied to the settlements…
As we said before, it is feared that the sewage water will get to this spring. Recent checks have revealed that already now the water is unclean.
Site 4: Land stealing: Dogs put by the residents of the settlement of Alei Zahav in the Palestinians' land.
The settlement of Alei Zahav is built on land stolen from the village. The building site, the ways and the security strips were constructed uprooting many olive trees. Although there are few olive groves left to the Palestinians next to the settlement, there, too, they encounter difficulties and cannot always get to their lands to work there.
We arrived with the grove owner (the head of the village) at the entrance to the settlement, where all is green and gets water like the Sharon. In order to get into his land, the head of the village has to ask for permission from the soldier at the checkpoint, who makes a phone call and only after getting the permission was he allowed to enter his lands. We went in with him. No one except him – his brother, for instance – is allowed to enter without him. Being the head of the village, he is busy with different issues that concern the village and has no time to work his land by himself. He has to take workers to help him, but he cannot get entrance permits for them. The area is filled with piles of dry thorn bushes and he cannot remove them and plough his land. We saw the desolation and the effects of the poisonous spraying on the olive trees (the doing of a settler known to the head of the council): dry branches, thinned leaves and overall slow dying.
In addition to that, in the area of the Palestinian grove, the settlers put kennels with big, fearsome dogs which threaten everyone who comes to work the land. The grove owner told us he had to tempt the dogs with food in order to be able to work there. A water pipe, half an inch in diameter, supplies water to the dogs.
By the way, as soon as we came there, army vehicles started moving around. One of the soldiers questioned us and the Palestinians. He asked us pleasantly how we were and we told him what we thought about the things we had seen. He listened and asked something. It turned out he knew nothing about what was going on around him.
We had to say good-bye and we told him that we would try to pass the information about what we had seen to different Israeli officials.
We are not sure but we hope we succeed in bringing some change.
Concerning the water issue only – see the short film at the link:
(Photographed and edited – Dalia G.)