Why Is Palestine's Drought Not As Important As California's?

Think California's drought is bad? Try Palestine's


Holed Palestinian water tanks, destroyed by armed settlers in the old city of Hebron. Photo: ISM Palestine via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

As World Water Week kicks off in Stockholm today with a theme of 'Water for Development', the drought being deliberately inflicted on Palestinians is firmly off the agenda, writes Laith Shakir. While Israelis water their lawns, irrigate crops and swim in Olympic-sized pools, Palestinian communities a few kilometers away are literally dying of thirst.

This crisis has become the norm for Palestinians for decades now, though its severity continues to increase as water becomes more scarce. The UN estimates that the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable by 2020.

California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the state's history, prompting Governor Jerry Brown to declare a water "state of emergency."

Ordinary Californians are bearing the brunt of this disaster. While the governor has imposed restrictions to reduce residential water consumption, businesses in the fields of agriculture and hydraulic fracturing have been largely exempt.

Brown's unwillingness to take on these gargantuan corporate water-wasters lends a sharp political element to an otherwise natural disaster.

There's another region in the world, however, where access to water isn't just decided on the whims of politicians dealing with natural disasters. In fact, the very existence of water crises is official state policy for one country: Israel.

Dying of thirst

Despite its location in a region thought to be perennially dry, the Holy Land actually has ample natural freshwater resources - namely in the form of underwater aquifers and the Jordan River. Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli settlers live in roughly equal proximity to these resources, which theoretically would allow for equal consumption.

Israeli water policy, however, has made this prospect virtually impossible. In fact, there's a shocking disparity.

A report from the United Nations found that the average Israeli settler consumes 300 liters of water per day - a figure surpassing even the average Californian's 290. But thanks to Israeli military action and legal restrictions on access, the average Palestinian in the occupied West Bank only gets about 70.

And for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who live off the water grid altogether, daily consumption hovers at around 30. That's just 10% of the Israeli figure.

Both figures are well below the minimum 100 liters per day recommended by the World Health Organization. While Israelis are watering their lawns and swimming in Olympic-sized pools, Palestinian communities a few kilometers away are literally dying of thirst.

Weaponizing water

This inequality has deep roots - and it's no accident.

Almost immediately after the creation of Israel in 1948, the fledgling country took comprehensive action to secure control of the region's water. These policies were ramped up again following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Israel first assumed control of the Palestinian territories.

That year, the Israeli armed forces issued Military Order 92 - an initiative that put Palestinian water resources under Israel's military jurisdiction. This was shortly followed by Military Order 158, which required Palestinians to obtain permits from the military in order to build new water infrastructure.

If they built new wells, springs, or even rain-collecting containers without Israeli permission, soldiers would confiscate or destroy them, often without prior notification.

These orders, among others, remain on the books to this day. They form the basis for the administration of water access for nearly 4.4 million Palestinians. Although control of water resources is now officially the domain of Mekorot, Israel's national water company, Israeli forces routinely perform operations with the explicit intent of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure.


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This is nothing less than a crime against humanity. So please do not try to justify this based on history or religion. Also again, notice no mention of this in our American media. All we see are the same platitudes from the US calling for unflinching loyalty to the Israeli government, even if it supersedes the best interests of Americans and especially those poor people of Palestine.

This should not be about politics. This is about humanity. Water used as a weapon by any government is the height of evil and cowardice.

According to these reports the Gaza strip will be unliveable within FIVE YEARS. Where will the people go? Are we to simply sit and watch another genocide? How can you claim to stand for peace while denying water?

And really? World Water Week in Stockholm is a joke. I stopped supporting it years ago after reading that water sucking NESTLE was one of its sponsors. The corruption runs deep. Much deeper than the water available to those who have a right to it.



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Also see:

REPOST (With additions) : Water Crisis Will Make Gaza Strip "Unliveable" -Water Used As A Weapon
From 2014
See what this war has really been about.

Water Crisis Will Make Gaza Strip "Unliveable"
From 2012

The case of Gaza: water scarcity and conflict
From 2009

Is The Israeli/Lebanon War Over Water?
From 2009
In my research of this area, I discovered that there has been a threat of war for years over waters being diverted from the Wazzani River in Lebanon, and Israel's alleged attempts at taking water from the Jordan and the Litani Rivers. So, is taking out Lebanon's pumps and gaining control of the Litani and Wazzani Rivers now also part of the plan of these current attacks? The Israeli government is denying water and subsistence to innocent people, and that is a human rights abuse. Per this article from 12 years ago (which shows how long this dispute has been going on): (bolding my emphasis)

Comments

Warren Register said…
Of course Palestine's drought isn't as important as California's. After all they don't have rich white people living there.