Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

Does Israel steal "Palestinian" water?

Sophie, you are wrong when you say I have not even investigated this issue. Consider the following report. Please DO come back and "correct" any misinformation in this report or add any serious ommissions:


Media coverage of complex and explosive water issues regularly neglects the facts.

By Alex Safian, Camera Media Report, Winter 2000 In recent years, press accounts have charged Israel with unfairly and illegally draining water from "Palestinian aquifers," enabling Israelis to enjoy green lawns, and full swimming pools, while leaving Palestinians with barely enough to drink. Thus, in the summer of 1998, the New York Times reported that for Palestinians:

…most taps ran dry a month ago… That would have spelled misery anywhere, but what has made it worse on the West Bank is that Palestinians cannot help but notice that they are the only ones so parched. There is no sign of a water shortage in the Jewish settlements just outside Hebron. There, and in Israel as a whole, residents still water lawns and wash their cars. (Douglas Jehl, 15 August 1998).

More recently, in a July 27, 1999 story, National Public Radio reported that Israel is:
Violating international law… [by] helping itself to most of the water that runs beneath Palestinian lands… the average Israeli consumes about six times more water than the average Palestinian… Israeli officials say that their policy is to ensure Israelis get sufficient water to live properly and develop economically. It's unfortunate, they say, if there's not enough water left over for the Palestinians.

Other news outlets, such as the BBC and the AP, have reported similarly. But the facts tell a different story, Israel has never "helped itself" to water "beneath Palestinian lands." Israel obtains roughly 30 percent of its water from the Sea of Galilee and the Coastal aquifer, both of which are entirely within Israel's pre-1967 borders. Another 30 percent comes from the Western and Northeastern Aquifers of the Mountain Aquifer system. These aquifers straddle the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank, but most of the stored water is under pre-1967 Israel, making it easily accessible only in Israel.

Thus, even in the 1950s Israel used 93 percent of the Western Aquifer's water, and 82 percent of the Northeastern Aquifer's water. Today, Israel's share of these aquifers has declined to 83 percent and 80 percent, respectively. That is, under Israeli administration the Palestinian share of these aquifers has actually increased.

In addition, over 40 MCM (million cubic meters) of water per year from sources within Israel is piped over the Green Line for Palestinian use in the West Bank. Ramallah, for example, receives over 5 MCM annually from Israeli sources. Israel sends another 4 MCM annually over its border for Palestinian use in the Gaza Strip. Thus, it is the Palestinians who are using Israeli water.

And not just the Palestinians. Despite its own meager supply, Israel annually provides 600,000 CM of water to ten otherwise dry villages in South Lebanon, and, as a favor to the late King Hussein, more than 55 MCM annually to Jordan. Perhaps no other country, facing the severe shortages that Israel does, has shared so much water with so many of its neighbors.

BECKY: Sophie, considering the number of mainstream sources which have reported that Israel is "stealing" Palestinian water, I can understand why you were so misinformed. In order to get at the truth in this contentious atmoshpere, you really have to dig to get to the bottom of the situation.

Also: Have you read any recent reports? Israel has gotten record rainfall this winter ending 10 years of drought. There is now no reason to fight over water as there is plenty for all. Of course, Palestinians have already blamed Israel for flooding which they claim is caused by the wall!!! Instead of dancing in the streets thanking God for ending 10 years of drought, they are blaming Israel!!

NOTE TO JA: Get a life!

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