Bruqin, Kufr alDik, Tue 17.1.12, Morning
Translated by Charles S. Kamen
In response to Barak Ravid’s Ha’aretz article, 17.1.12, “Apartheid in water allocation on the West Bank,” about the report by the Foreign Affairs committee of the French Parliament, here’s a report from the field, dealing with water problems in the villages of A-Dik and Bruqin (south of Ariel) that are the result of Israeli policy.
Mekorot allocates to the 10,000 residents of the villages of A-Dik and Bruqin a total of 20 cubic meters/hour, 480 cubic meters per 24 hour day. In other words, the per-person allocation is 48 liters per 24 hours for household and agricultural use (updated information from Mekorot and from Hassan, who’s in charge of water for the village).
According to the World Health Organization, a person needs 100 liters/day of clean, safe, accessible water. As of 2008, the average water consumption in Israel was between 240-280 liters per person per day.(lpppd) Palestinians on the West Bank, on the other hand, consume an average of 60 lpppd, and in these two villages, 48 lpppd.
From the Human Rights web site: Israel has controlled water resources in the West Bank since capturing the area from Jordan in 1967. Mekorot pumps water from underground aquifers in the occupied West Bank. It provides water to Jewish settlers for household and agricultural purposes, but denies Palestinians similar access.
Responses to this situation:
An agricultural instructor from the Jordan Valley was astonished to hear this: “That doesn’t make sense! It can’t be!”
Jamal, a village resident: “We shower twice a week and don’t grow flowers or grass in the garden because we must conserve drinking water. They’ve plugged up our wells and even forbid us to dig cisterns to collect rainwater for irrigation. Any cistern we dig is immediately destroyed by a bulldozer.” He continues: “Members of Machsom Watch worked for a year and a half to increase our water allocation. Mekorot promised to double the amount we receive, and this week we were informed that the increase would arrive! And what did we get? – 6 cubic meters. In other words, instead of 14 cubic meters for 10,000 people (which we’d received until last week), we’ll now receive 20 cubic meters per hour. An increase of 6 cubic meters to be divided among 10,000 people.”
Members of Machsom Watch: We meet every week with people in the village, and we decided to try to help them. We called and wrote everyone we could think of who’s connected with water: Mekorot, the Israel Water Authority, the Palestinian Water Authority (yes, them as well). We learned that “the commander’s spirit” rules them all, that the policy is clear. They don’t even keep the promises they make.
What do we see in the field? During the winter, A-Dik and Brukin are at the mercy of the heavens (they collect and store rainwater for household use), and during the summer they’re at the mercy of the state of Israel…
People run through the streets to ask one another for drinking water, while before their eyes the nearby settlement of Alei Zahav sits atop the hill, its sprinklers irrigating flowers and lawns with unlimited amounts of water.
Hassan: “The water sources in the springs, the streams and the wells have all been polluted by sewage from Ariel and are unfit to drink. Even the milk and the meat of the cows that eat the grass near the stream have been poisoned.”
We drove with Hassan to see how, from where, and to where Ariel’s sewage flows. We saw a water treatment installation ready for operation at the bottom of the hill (where the sewage accumulates). Treated water was supposed to flow to the villages. Why isn’t the installation operating?
Na’al, the expert on the subject, tells us on the phone from Ramallah: “Your representative from the Israel Water Authority, Mr. Baruch Nagar, stopped the work. He said there was no money!”
Our conclusion: Once again, in accord with “the commander’s spirit,” the installation whose construction was funded by donations isn’t operating because of some comment by the person from the Israel Water Authority. From which there’s no appeal. The poisoned springs aren’t important to the people running the Water Authority.
Israel has created a “delicate balance” of fluids: it takes the water and provides sewage instead…
The data: The village of A-Dik has 18,000 dunums of land, 14,600 dunums of which are in Area C, under Israeli control. Palestinians are forbidden to build in that area, to excavate or to renovate without a permit, which they won’t receive. Moreover, since 1998 their lands are being stolen “bit by bit” for the benefit of the settlers in Bruchin, Alei Zahav and Fadu’el, and now also for the new settlement being built – Leshem.
The noose is tightening around the villages of A-Dik and Brukin: agricultural land is gradually being expropriated, to the extent that the villagers fear that only their homes will be left.
Mekorot is pumping the water, allocating it in line with a policy that completely ignores the inhabitants of the West Bank. The army plugs up the wells. Sewage from Ariel pollutes the groundwater.
The villagers are thirsty. They must build their homes in Area C, because there’s no more room in the area where building is permitted, but then bulldozers come and demolish them.
And while this is occurring, a massive construction project is underway in the settlements – on the villages’ lands!
How can we protest this extensive transfer? And what’s the result?
Tear gas: When the residents speak up against the transfer of their water and their lands, and against the terrifying nighttime incursions of the IDF into their villages, and the demolitions it carries out during the day, what’s the result? Tear gas grenades thrown everywhere: at the demonstrators by the roadside, at the village houses, into children’s bedrooms (the photo shows a broken window from the demonstration on 6.1.12).
Addendum, from Monday, 23.1.12: This morning the IDF reestablished the roadblock at the entrance to Kafr A-Dik. The residents will no longer be able to see the accelerated construction project in the settlements and will have difficulty organizing the kind of demonstrations they held recently. Now the entrance to the village is via Brukin. (Someone’s aiming at the village!).
Click here for the interview with Hassan.
ranslated by Charles S. Kamen