Water is life. Especially on the desert and when you want to cultivate agricultural land. JordanValley is a unique place. The soil is very rich here and because it is situated below the sea level its water reservoirs are more than sufficient. Together with mild climate all these factors provide perfect conditions for many harvests per year, even in the winter season. Farmers from the Valley used to sell their crops at that time, also for export.
Unfortunately, Israeli presence here brought the problem of lack of water. There is a variety of reasons for that. For instance, Israelis drill deep wells (over 300m deep) with high tech equipment causing drying of the natural water springs used so far by the Palestinians.
The springs that are still usable are being made unavailable for the local people because of restrictions often justified by ‘security reasons’. Additionally, Israel makes regulations concerning the well depth drilled by Palestinians (maximum 160m deep). They lost their springs and now have no other choice than to buy it from Israeli company Mekarot which has monopolized most of the water resources in the West Bank.
Water sold to Palestinians is of lower quality than the one used by Israelis. Even Bedouins who live in poverty have to pay for the water which runs under their feet in their own ground, but is not accessible for them. People can only fill their tanks in only few specially designated filling points what means the need of renting a tractor. The tank depicted below costs around 200NIS (~50€) plus transportation cost.
Because of the ‘security reasons’, Palestinians are also prevented from using water from the Jordan River. This policy is extremely unfair because the Jordan bank is the most fertile agricultural land in this area, however now it is closed for Palestinians with electric fence and guarded by the army. Despite of that fact, the closed zones are being continuously populated by the Israeli settlers who are allowed to trespass the barriers, build houses and develop agriculture there. By the way, Israeli settlers consume about six times more water than Palestinians;
Other practices following the water policy in theWest Bank are: destroying water and irrigation infrastructure and polluting the springs. From our own experience we can admit that the water quality is low here as we and our friends suffered a few times from diseases transferred in water.
Apart from the obvious consequences of the water restrictions it has also influenced the structure of the agricultural economy of the region. With such limited water resources Palestinians are not able to cultivate the most beneficial and water demanding types of plants which became monopolized by the Israeli settlers’ farms.
The Dead Sea, big part of which lays in Palestinian area is a massive tourist attraction and has been closed for the Palestinians, who are not allowed to invest there and gain profits from tourism. Israeli exploitive politics (pumping water from the sea to industrial facilities, polluting with sewage) brought the Dead Sea to a verge of ecological catastrophe: sea level decreases one meter annually.
Discriminative Israeli politics has a lot of negative consequences and also influences the ecosystem and hence is a global issue.