Who controls the water in the Jordan Valley?

By the Jordan Valley team, 

(PHOTO A) 09.12.15. Baddala, Jordan Valley, Palestine. Village leader - Abdullah Sawafta. Photo EAPPI/P. Longden

09.12.15. Baddala, Jordan Valley, Palestine. Village leader – Abdullah Sawafta. Photo EAPPI/P. Longden

Tanks took my water…

Abudallah Sawafta, age 78, a senior resident in Bardala, the northernmost village in the Jordan Valley, occupied Palestine, describes what happened when the Israeli military visited his village.

“They (the Israeli water company and the Army) took our fresh water well. They connected another pipe and just took the water – and now they sell our own water back to us at very high prices”

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A success story: against all the odds

by the Jordan Valley team

Nai’me shows us the water pool her family has built with the aid from a local organisation. She explains to us how this pool has enabled her family to harvest rainwater and use it to irrigate their farms. She smiles shyly and adds:

“Our produce has increased so much that we now can afford to send our eldest daughter to university in Jericho”  Nai’me 2015

Nai'mes agricultural water pool, Jordan Valley Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke

Nai’mes agricultural water pool, Jordan Valley Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke

Nai’me and her family live in a small village north of Jericho, situated in Area C. In Area C, Israeli authorities control everything pertaining to building and development. If you want to build a house, drill a well or pave a road, you need a permit; something that Nai’me and her family do not have. In fact, they did not even try to ask for one, since Israeli authorities are not in the habit of granting permits to Palestinians. Nai’me and her family decided to build anyway as a way of resisting the occupation.

Between 2000 and 2007, 94% of all Palestinian applications for building permits were denied, according to UN OCHA.

EAs Peter and Pia overlooking the Palestinian village of Marj e-Ghazal in the Jordan Valley.Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke

EAs Peter and Pia visit Palestinian villages in Area C Jordan Valley Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke

In the Jordan Valley Israel’s military occupation is characterised by bureaucratic and physical restrictions for Palestinians. Nai’me and her family are not the only ones whose buildings are deemed illegal. While she and her family lack permission from the Israeli authorities, the Israeli settlements are expanding, in violation of International Humanitarian Law.

Settlements are heavily subsidised by the Israeli authorities and land is allocated to them through a complex and overlapping system of zoning.

Argaman settlement, established in 1968 in the Jordan Valley. Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke

Argaman settlement, established in 1968 in the Jordan Valley. Photo EAPPI/M. Stacke

The zoning of the occupied West Bank into Areas A, B and C determine which authority, Palestinian or Israeli, is responsible for the inhabitants. Area C is divided into several sub-categories which have severely hindered the natural growth and development of Palestinian towns and cities. In the Jordan Valley for example the Israeli authorities have re-zoned most of the land as either state land, closed firing zones or nature reserve.

Significantly, while only 6% of the Jordan Valley is available for Palestinian development a total of 86 % falls under the jurisdiction of the municipal and regional councils of the settlements. This facilitates the development of settlements well beyond the 12 % of land they cultivate today.

A success story: against all odds? Nai’me knows they run the risk of having their water pool demolished by Israeli authorities. If this happens, her husband might have to go back to working in the settlement farm bordering their village. But Nai’me hopes that they will get to keep their water pool for a couple of years and that her eldest daughter will have time to finish her degree.

Read more eye witness accounts from the Jordan Valley; Area Cdemolitions, water 

Learn more about this issues from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions  ICHAD 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Top 10 Posts from 2014

Happy New Year to all! We want to say thank you to all you follow our blog and read our posts. It’s you who help us get the word out about the injustices happening in Palestine and Israel.

The year 2014 was a difficult year with the assault on Gaza, the kidnapping of 3 Israeli teens, the closures & raids that occurred across the West Bank in the search for the teens. It was also a 6 year high for displacement from demolitions and human rights violations continued throughout the West Bank.  Here we shed light on the injustices that occurred and the faces of hope & perseverance through it all in 10 most viewed posts from 2014.

10. Final destination

photo of Selim Auda Jahaleen

Selim Auda Jahaleen is 107 years old. A Palestinian Bedouin, he is the oldest member of the Jahaleen tribe. Photo EAPPI/BG. Saltnes.

Israeli authorities announced plans, Nuwei’ma plans, to forcibly transfer over 7,000 Bedouin from the Jerusalem periphery/E1 area and Jordan Valley. Bedouin who have already become refugees twice, face imminent displacement again and the loss of their traditional way of life. Demolitions of homes and property are the immediate result of these plans and affect families such as Selim’s.

9. Responding to tragedy with smiles and sweet tea

The Daraghmi family after their home was demolished. Photo EAPPI/A. Batista.

The Daraghmi family after their home was demolished. Photo EAPPI/A. Batista.

Demolitions are a common occurrence in the Jordan Valley. Some homes & villages have been demolished many times. In January 2014, EAs went to the home of Nimer Hassan Hussein Daraghmi in Al Farisiya only 3 hours after his home was demolished. They found that in the face of tragedy & disaster, this family showed remarkable hospitality.

8. Humanitarian Situation Deteriorates at Bethlehem Checkpoint 300

Checkpoint 300. Photo EAPPI/S. Amrad.

Checkpoint 300. Photo EAPPI/S. Amrad.

Between 4,000 to 6,000 Palestinian workers cross the Bethlehem Checkpoint everyday on their way to work inside Israel. The overcrowding at this checkpoint is dangerous and raises serious humanitarian concerns. In May 2014, the situation deteriorated severely. Check out the fact sheet we created about it.  Although it’s from May 2014, it is not far off from the everyday reality of Checkpoint 300 and is still relevant today.

7. Archaeological excavations in Tel Rumeida in Hebron expand and destroy more Palestinian land

Ferial Abu Haikal discusses with Israeli soldiers. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

Ferial Abu Haikal discusses with Israeli soldiers. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

In February 2014, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) significantly expanded excavations in Tel Rumeida in Hebron. We gave an update in June 2014 and showed how individual Palestinian families and their land are being affected. Excavations continue today.

6. Palestinian Christians find hope in Pope Francis’ visit

C. Holtan Pope Francis by the Wall in Bethlehem 250514

Pope Francis visited the Holy Land in May 2014.  With his stop at the Separation Wall he did not just leave an iconic photo for the media, but also gave a feeling of hope for Palestinian Christians that worldwide Christians recognized the injustices in the Holy Land.

5. The tribulations of Khaled Al Najar

EAs inspect the damage to Khaled's wheat harvest. Photo EAPPI/H. Tyssen.

EAs inspect the damage to Khaled’s wheat harvest. Photo EAPPI/H. Tyssen.

Khaled Al Najar from the South Hebron Hills has faced numerous trials and tribulations over the years due to the Israeli occupation and settler violence.  From burned crops and livelihood to being shot in his stomach to long drawn out court cases, an EA captured his heart wrenching story.

4. “I teach all the children at the school to keep their dignity.” ~Samia, Teacher, Cordoba School

T.FJeldmann_TeacherSamiaAlJaberi_CP56_Hebron010914_2

As part of our 2014 Back to School series, we interviewed students & teachers about their challenges of going to school under military occupation and also their hopes & dreams that persist despite these obstacles.  Samia, a teacher in Hebron, shared some inspiring words.

3.Access to water in the Jordan Valley

Abu Dirra shows us the old larger Palestinian water pipe in Bardala which was severed.  Israeli authorities joined the smaller water pipe, allowing a smaller amount of water to be pumped to the village. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

Abu Dirra shows us the old larger Palestinian water pipe in Bardala which was severed. Israeli authorities joined the smaller water pipe, allowing a smaller amount of water to be pumped to the village. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

In 2014, we started a new placement in the Jordan Valley.  Our first team of EAs there took on the big task of raising awareness and advocating for issues in this contentious valley. In this article, they shed light on the injustices of water distribution. Although water is an issue all over Palestine, inequality is the worst in the Dead Sea area of the Jordan Valley, where Israeli settlers receive 10 times more water than West Bank Palestinians.

2. Houses, oranges, checkpoints, guns – kids draw life in Palestine

Sadee's drawing

When I saw Sadee’s drawing I asked her if the person inside the house was holding a plate of food. She told me that it wasn’t a house, it was a checkpoint, and that the person was a soldier holding a gun. Photo EAPPI/E. Kulta.

Art is a powerful tool for self expression.  Two EAs asked kids in Azzun Atma to draw their life in Palestine. What they got were powerful reflections from 7 and 8 year olds of living and going to school under military occupation.

1. The Tent of Nations – a nonviolent conviction to resist injustice and build hope for peace

Esther Goebel - Daher Nassar - Tent of Nations - Nassar on his farm, Jewish settlements in the background

The Tent of Nations, located just outside, faces constant threat of harrassment land confiscation from Israeli authorities and Israeli settlers. Yet, Daher Nassar refuses to give and is an inspiring example of peace and nonviolence. We wrote this article about him in February before 800 of the family’s trees were uprooted in May. This calamity did not deter him, however, and he continues to plant trees as a sign of hope.

Video: Resonance – Daily Life in Area C

Approximately 60% of the West Bank is designated as Area C, meaning its under full Israeli military and civil control.  What does this mean for the daily life of the residents in Area C?  We talk about this area a lot in our eyewitness reports, but it’s hard to explain the impact of this area.  Thanks to GVC Italia, who has come out with a new documentary touching on all the difficulties that come with living in Area C, you can get a glimpse into life in this area.

The documentary was created by four students of Palestinian Universities in the Occupied West Bank.

*Read more eyewitness stories from Area C.

Access to water in the Jordan Valley

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” John 7:37

by Sophie, Jordan Valley team

The midday sun is coming into it’s own as we seek sanctuary under a tree in ‘Ein el Beida. As the first EAPPI Jordan Valley team, we are warmly welcomed by Abu Omar and his elderly uncle Abu ‘Akab, a kindly man with a sense of humour, against the odds.

‘Ein el Beida and its neighbour Bardala are located in the far north of the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley makes up almost a third of the West Bank, and is traditionally known as being the ‘breadbasket of Palestine’ because of its fertile land for agriculture. Yet Palestinian farmers in the area are struggling to survive. We have come to find out why.

“Before they were public springs, no one paid, it was communal water in ‘Ein el Beida, our tradition. After, they take our spring and we have to pay them agora [money] for our own water, and then they do not give us enough”, Abu Omar explains.

Abu Dirra shows us the old larger Palestinian water pipe in Bardala which was severed.  Israeli authorities joined the smaller water pipe, allowing a smaller amount of water to be pumped to the village. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

Abu Dirra shows us the old larger Palestinian water pipe in Bardala which was severed. Israeli authorities joined the smaller water pipe, allowing a smaller amount of water to be pumped to the village. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

The ‘before’ and ‘after’ Abu ‘Omar refers to is the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank. In 1967, a series of military orders declared all Palestinian water resources to be Israeli state property. Under these orders, Palestinians are prohibited from developing water resources without a permit from Israel. This means that they cannot maintain a spring, repair a cistern, or develop irrigation networks without Israel’s permission, and permission is almost always refused.

In Bardala, the Israeli government confiscated the land of the village’s main spring and the national water company, Mekorot, dug deeper into the mountain aquifer. As a result, the nearby Palestinian spring in Bardala, and the 9 more shallow springs of Ein el Beida, dried up. According to the Joint Water Committee there were 774 operating wells in the West Bank in 1967, now due to Israeli restrictions there are just 264 operating wells, an EWASH (Emergency Water And Sanitation/Hygiene) representative informed us.

Abu ‘Omar tells us what it means for his farming:

It is a huge problem for our plants, the plants are our economy, our resources. We need water for our traditional plants…carrots, nuts…Now we have to try plant vegetables that don’t need as much water. But then we all produce the same, tomatoes and cucumbers in greenhouses, and this reduces the price at market so we cannot make a living. The water goes to the settlements and they have as much as they like.

Bardala’s water is diverted to nearby Israeli agricultural settlements including Mehola and Rotem, illegal under International Humanitarian Law. They export everything from dates to herbs, mostly to European markets.

The difference in overall consumption is stark. According to EWASH, a coalition of 30 NGOs working on water, hygiene and sanitation issues in the Occupied Palestinian territoriesthe Israeli settlers in the northern Dead Sea area of the Jordan Valley are allocated 10 times more water than the average West Bank Palestinian.

As we walk around the villages, the contrast between the settlement and village lands are striking.

‘Ein el Beida’s agricultural land in front. The orange trees cultivated by illegal Mehora settlement behind. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

‘Ein el Beida’s agricultural land in front. The orange trees cultivated by illegal Mehora settlement behind. Photo EAPPI/B. Saltnes.

Abu Dirar is a representative of Bardala Village Council, a farmer and a father. We ask him about the impact on daily life of the water restrictions:

“We just don’t drink lots of water here. And it’s hot, between May and November it is very hot. You need to shower 4 times a day if you go out. But we have to go 2 or 3 days without a shower. We joke about it, but it is a miserable life.”

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 100 litres of water per person per day for domestic use and personal hygiene. Israeli restrictions mean that Palestinians have access to an average of only 70 litres, and many vulnerable communities in the Jordan Valley have to survive on as little as 20-30 litres because it must be tankered in at high cost.

Abu Dirar used to plant 10,000 dunums (1000 hectares) of his land, but now only a third routinely, the rest only if there are heavy winter rains.

“The economy needs water. Now people don’t plant in summer. In summer we just sit.” He is keenly aware of the impact on the next generation, the future of Palestine, “the young people are researching jobs in the cities, they are leaving. I will cope, but my son, I know he will leave.”

After all they need to go somewhere to drink.

Take Action now to support Palestinian water rights.

* A previous version of this post stated that Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area are allocated 75 times more water than the average West Bank Palestinian.  Israeli settlers in the northern Dead Sea area are allocated 727 litres per day and the average West Bank Palestinian consumes 73 litres per day.  We have now changed the statistic to 10 times more water, which is a more accurate reflection of the statistics.

 

EA Blog: Yesterday in Wadi Rahhal

By Susan, Bethlehem Team

Yesterday I met Anas, a young man who has recently graduated from Bethlehem University with a social work degree. He took me to visit his village named Wadi Rahhal,
It took us 30 minutes to reach this small village in a minibus using old roads snaking from village to village until we reached Wadi Rahhal, [population 1,300]. The traditional road from Bethlehem takes 10 minutes but  that road had been ‘confiscated’ for use for Israeli settlers only. They have a large [housing estate] settlement on agricultural land they took from the village, illegally.

I drank tea in Anas’s home and met his mother before we went  walking around the village whilst hearing how it has changed.
Anas pointed to an area beside the Israeli settlement and said “When I was a child my family used to go there for BBQs and I played in the forest there.”  Now the forest has been destroyed and the area is an Israeli ‘security zone’.

To claim land the occupying forces have used bulldozers to raze agricultural land and uprooted 500 olive trees, 200 grape vines 150 stone fruit trees along with over 150 other trees. They also use bulldozers to demolish houses.   See picture below.

Susan blog pic 2

Some villagers keep sheep, goats and even a few beehives. There are crops of tomatoes, cucumbers and a small amount of cereals growing in the remaining land.

Residents say control of water has been taken from the village for the huge settlements and sold back to the village at a high cost.
In summer the villagers have water if it is not all used by the settlers.

The kindergarten was built with the help of World Vision. And there is a school for over 400 students which may soon have some rebuilding done with the help of US Aid. The school is about 10 meters from the proposed segregation wall. In the photo below, the road behind us is the foundation for the Separation Wall, 10 metres in front of us is the school.   

susan pic 1

Parents say the wall is already having an emotional impact on their children.  I was told “I hope we can release the stress. I hope to have good children with no psychological problems and good mental health”.
The standard of education appears to be good with several children gaining University places each year.  I have been told “they won’t get work but will have an education for when freedom comes. When the Israelis go home we are prepared”.  Hmmm.

Last year there were 400 graduates from Bethlehem University. Again, I have been told  “Only 10 of them got jobs in the area of their education.” The photo below shows Wadi Rahhal’s first university graduate, who is now a retired principal.

susan pic 3

Wadi Rahhal volleyball team has been the champions of South Palestine for the past 6 years, and they have a football team and a girls under 14 yrs volleyball teams.

I am so impressed with the people I meet.  I asked Anas what he thinks of the Israelis.
“Israelis are not the problem, it’s the Zionist that cause the problem. I have Israeli friends and some come to support us.”
When I asked if the villagers thought to protest he said “We did in the past but we were threatened, they will shoot us, we have not got guns. we are peaceful people”.