12 July 2011
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Mekorot Water Company again destroys Jaber family irrigation pipes
by James R. Thomas
[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]
On 6 and 11 July, 2011 Atta Jaber called the Hebron CPT Office to report that the Mekorot Water Company had destroyed plastic irrigation pipes in his family’s gardens. Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, employed young Palestinians to cut the water lines and accused the Jabers of stealing water by tapping into lines that supply the nearby Israeli settler communities of Harsina and Kiryat Arba.
According to Jonathan Cook, “Israel controls 80 per cent of the West Bank’s water sources, and diverts most of that supply to its own citizens, inside Israel and the settlements.” (1) Three million West Bank Palestinians use only 250 million cubic meters per year (83 cubic meters per Palestinian per year) while six million Israelis use 1,954 million cubic meters (333 cubic meters per Israeli per year). Palestinians thus receive a fifth of the West Bank’s water. More than 200,000 rural Palestinians, most living in Area C under Israeli control, have no running water at all and have to buy water from Israeli tanker-trucks. (2) Cook reports that Palestinians consume far less than the 100 liters each “…recommended by the World Health Organization as the daily minimum.” (3)
The United Nations Covenant establishes that under international law it is illegal for Israel to expropriate the water of the Occupied Palestinian Territories for use by its own citizens, and doubly illegal to expropriate it for use by Israeli settlers. (4)
The extended Jaber family has deeds to their lands dating back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. Atta Jaber believes that the water that flows to the Beqa’a valley comes from an aquifer under the town of Bethlehem. “Palestinians should not have to pay for what is already their own,” he told CPTers. If their gardens fail, the family fears, Israel will declare the empty dunums of land unused, or abandoned, and settlers will claim them.
Additional photos are available here.
1. Jonathan Cook. Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair. New York. Zed Books. 2010, p. 122.
2. ‘The lights of Netzarin’, Ha’aretz, 7 November 2003
3. Cook, p. 122.
4. Article 1(2) of the 1966 United Nations Human Rights Covenants proclaims: “All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based on the principle of mutual benefit and international law. . .”