Constant attacks by Israeli settlers have made a large portion of West Bank farmers unable to irrigate their land from springs around their villages amid concerns over the increased control exercised by the occupation on the water resources in the Palestinian territories.
“I was attacked by dozens of settlers while getting water from a spring next to a land I rented,” Amjad Mazloum, from the village of al-Janiya in west Ramallah, told Al Arabiya.
Mazloum added that they smashed his car and told him that both the spring and the land are theirs.
“This is not the first time they’ve done that. They always come at the end of the week and they are always armed.”
Settlers, Mazloum pointed out, are now partially controlling the spring and have started coming to bathe in it on regular basis.
“Very soon they will have full control on it.”
The increased infringement of settlers on Palestinian water rights forebodes an imminent crisis that might leave land owned and cultivated by West Bank farmers in a state of drought, said Ayman Jarar of the Palestinian Water Authority.
“Israel is waging an unprecedented war on water resources in the Palestinian territories,” he told Al Arabiya.
Jarar added that since 1995, Israel has not permitted Palestinians to get the amounts of water they need even from territories under the full control of the Palestinian Authority.
“Eventually this will lead to the desertification of Palestinian land.”
Israel, Jarar noted, has already seized 350 artesian wells and is preventing Palestinians from using other available resources.
“They are not allowing us to use the water of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River.”
Added to this, said Jarar, many of the wells under Palestinian control have dried out.
“This means that our share of water is diminishing drastically.”
Jarar explained that the water share of each Palestinian individual is estimated at 70 liters per day compared to 320 for each Israeli settler and 230 for each Israeli citizen.
“This means that a settler gets four times and half more than a Palestinian.”
Jarar stated that the water one Palestinian gets is a lot less than international standards while an Israeli settler gets a lot more.
“According to the World Health Organization, the amount of water an individual requires to satisfy all daily needs is estimated at 150 liters.”
According to Jarar, Palestinians get only 15 percent of renewable water sources in Palestine and which is estimated at 2,600 million liters in total.
“Half of this 15 percent we get from wells under our control and the other half we buy from Israel,” he concluded.
According to a report issued by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israel controls 30 out of 56 water springs located near the West Bank settlements while the rest are threatened with seizure by Israeli settlers who keep scaring Palestinian farmers away with constant armed attacks.
Settlers, the report added, have started renovating the areas around those springs in preparation for turning them into national parks for their own use despite the fact that Israel itself admits that 84 percent of the seized wells are owned by Palestinians.
The report called for putting settlers on trial for infringement on Palestinian water rights, construction work without permit, and the terrorization of peaceful civilians. Those acts, the report explained, are not only criminalized by international law but also by Israeli law.
Israeli authorities, however, have not responded to those demands and no measures have so far been taken against the settlers.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)