Saturday, November 21, 2009

Israel is denying Palestinians access to basic minimum of clean, safe water

Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water

Janet Lewis wrote recently about water issues in the West Bank, about the same time an important Amnesty International report was released.

Janet Lahr Lewis is a missionary with the Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving in the Middle East as liason between ecumenical groups, Israel and Palestine.

Here is a link to news about the Amnesty report:

And the report itself:

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Janet's report:

"During the past two weeks a Volunteer in Mission team was here from the W. Pennsylvania Conference. The team spent the first week visiting the holy sites and our partner projects where they heard about several issues of concern, one of which is the lack of water. The second week was spent in the village of Taybeh where they spent the mornings in the fields with host families in order to assist in the olive harvest…or rather what there is of it this year. After five years of not enough rain, there was not much to pick.

"There is a Western misconception about this `Land of Milk and Honey.' We have understood that to mean that things are easy here. God’s bounty is plentiful here. But this is not the case. For those who do not live here, it is easy to misinterpret this biblical reference. Moses led `his people' out of Egypt, a place where there was an abundance of water supplied by the Nile river and the surrounding land was fertile and food plentiful. Later from Mt Nebo Moses looked down over the Jordan Valley and instead of seeing a land of plenty he saw the Judean desert, not exactly what he may have expected. Moses surely understood that they would no longer be able to rely on water being plentifully supplied by a fast flowing river like the Nile. They would have to rely on the rain to water the earth; the rain that would enable the crops to grow and the animals and people to survive. This could only be accomplished if they obeyed their covenant with God so that God would supply the rain to sustain their lives here. As scripture reveals, they did not, so God denied them the rain and the land vomited them out. This is much different than our Western perception of Moses looking down onto a place where life would be easy and food plentiful.

`As the VIM team easily noticed, water is a precious commodity here, and life is anything but easy. What was denied by God to the people of Moses, is now being forcibly denied to the Palestinians by the Israeli government. The number one rule in warfare strategy is to control the water supply. Nothing can survive without water. Deny them water and the people will die. It’s that simple." Janet

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Here is an account from the BBC: Israel 'cuts Palestinian water' -

Israel 'cuts Palestinian water'

Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel's blockade has brought the water and sewage system to "crisis point".
Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal.

'Basic need'

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for the Israelis.

It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day - the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

Amnesty says that Israel denies West Bank Palestinians to dig wells, and has even destroyed cisterns and impounded water tankers.

At the same time, the report claims, Israeli settlers are enjoying swimming pools and green gardens.

In Gaza, Israel refuses access to many of the building materials needed to renovate the ailing water system, the document says.

It adds that Israel uses more than 80% of the water from the Mountain Aquifer - the main source of underground water in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

"Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality, subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford," Amnesty's Donatella Rovera said.

"Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians' access to water."

Ms Rovera also urged Israel to "take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources".

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the report was factually inaccurate, accusing the Palestinians of mismanaging water resources.

He also rejected the claim that Israel was preventing Palestinians from drilling for water.

The spokesman said Israel had approved 82 such projects but the Palestinians had only implemented 26 of them.

Story from BBC NEWS

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