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Mekerot Water Company Disrupts Flow of Water to Palestinian Gardens Again!
James R. Thomas
July 26, 2011
The Mekerot Water Company continues to disrupt the flow of water to Palestinian farms in the Baqa’a Valley. CPT was called again July 20 to document further damage to crops when the water company ripped out plastic irrigation pipes charging that Palestinians are stealing water. Seleh Jaber, a 67 year old farmer, told CPT ”Mekerot also cut strings that support beans and cut pipes in violation of Geneva Law.”(1) Mekerot has destroyed cisterns and wells on Jabber property filling them with rocks, and has issued orders for the demolition of all wells in the valley. Jaber said that the interruption of water to crops damages the Palestinian economy. He also said that each farmer in Baqa’a has 10-15 children. “They damage families.” Hassan Jaber, a family member whose new house is under construction after his previous home was demolished by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), said that “Young men are beaten with sticks and clubs when they are in the fields and Mekerot arrives to destroy irrigation equipment.” Selah Jaber estimates that over 80 men, women, and children were affected by Mekerot’s pipe cutting venture on July 20.
Shaddad Attili, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority, writing in the Jerusalem Post, June 2011, has listed numerous examples of Israel’s water stranglehold, such as denying permits for water exploration and destroying cisterns. He concluded that until “these policies are reversed, solutions for water will remain elusive”. The water situation exists for Palestinians despite the fact that the three principle underground aquifers of Palestine, are found largely in the West Bank.
The aquifers are:
Yarkon-Tanninim Aquifer (1) This supplies Israel with about 340 million cubic meters of water annually, which are used by the Jerusalem-Tel-Aviv area. Palestinians use about 20 million cubic meters a year.
Nablus-Gilboa Aquifer (2) This supplies Israel with about 115 million cubic meters a year, largely for agricultural irrigation in the kibbutzim (communes) and moshavim (cooperative settlements) in Galilee.
The Eastern Aquifer (3) . This supplies about 40 million cubic meters annually to the Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley, and about 60 million cubic meters to the Palestinians.
Israeli planners consider that the Yarkon-Taninim Aquifer is vital to Israeli water needs, and therefore would like to retain control of settlement blocks over that area, adjacent to the so called `center` of Israel, the Gush Dan area. It should be noted that Israel`s water supply always came from these Aquifers, both during mandate times and when the land was held by Jordan.
Seleh Jaber said “The people of Baqa’a live in constant fear that their crops and way of life will be destroyed.” They are constantly seeking ways, in and out of the legal system to plant and harvest beans, melons. Tomatoes, and peppers as their families have done in Baqa’s for over 400 years.”
(1) J. L. El Hindi, The West Bank Aquifer and Conventions Regarding Laws of Belligerent Occupation, Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 11, No. 4, Summer 1990.
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