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Visualizing Occupation: Distribution of Water

Israel controls the access to water from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Its disproportionate allocation of water, the settlements’ takeover of natural springs, and the prohibition against maintaining and constructing water cisterns in the West Bank without Israeli permits make water a sparse commodity for Palestinians. This illustration is the sixth in a series of infographics on Palestinian civilian life under occupation.

By Michal Vexler

 >For the entire Visualizing Occupation series click here

B’Tselem: The Shared Water Sources and the Control Over Them 
Amnesty International: Troubled Waters:  Palestinians Denies Fair Access to Water
United Nations OCHA: The Humanitarian Impact of the Takeover of Palestinian Water Springs by Israeli Settlers

Michal Vexler is a designer and an activist. This work – a part of a series of infographics regarding the effect of the occupation on the Palestinian civilian population – is presented here with her permission.

 >For the entire Visualizing Occupation series click here

Previous posts in this series:
Visualizing Occupation: Who profits, and who pays?
Visualizing Occupation: Freedom of movement
Visualizing Occupation: Palestinian Prisoners’ Day – the numbers
Visualizing Occupation: Ethnic cleansing
Visualizing Occupation: The right (or privilege) to protest?

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    1. Rehmat

      The leaders of World Zionist movement were aware of the great importance of water sources for establishing Jewish settlements in British mandate Palestine. This need has generated most of Israeli wars against its neighbors (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and even Sudan).

      Moshe Sharett recorded in his personal Diary in 1954: “This is the time, he (Ben Gurion) said, to push Lebanon, that is, the Maronites in that country, to proclaim a Christian State (over Litani River)…”

      Last year, British Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan, stated Israel’s so-called ‘security wall’ as Jewish tactic to grab more Palestinian land. Alan also claimed that Jew settlers are stealing water from the Native Palestinian Muslim and Christian farmers.


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    2. Palestinian

      They make the desert “bloom” ..boom

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    3. Joel

      The organization, Missing Peace,  has obtained authentic papers documenting meetings of the Joint Israeli Palestinian Water Committee (JWC) and the Israeli head of the International relations branch of COGAT. These documents paint an entirely different picture.

      Contrary to the abovementioned accusations, the Palestinian Authority has been sabotaging the two-state solution by preventing the development of an independent water infrastructure for the future Palestinian state. 
      n entirely different picture.

      Contrary to outrageous accusations, the Palestinian Authority has been sabotaging the two-state solution by preventing the development of an independent water infrastructure for the future Palestinian state. 

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    4. AYLA

      @Palestinian–can I steal that? (making the desert boom).

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    5. This is excellent, but I have one suggestion. The two blue parts of the ground layers should be swapped to show Palestinians have restrictions on how deep they can drill wells. It may be worth a text to that regard as well.

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    6. DTA

      “Daily Water Consumption per Capita (liters)”: 100 is the WHO recommendation.. Is this right? I mean 100 liters per day per person just sounded too much (I understand I can scale everything in that chart so I still get the coveyed message).

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    7. max

      @DTA, the consumption averages all water needs of society – including agriculture etc. – and then divides by the number of people.
      The water poverty threshold is defined as 50 L/D.
      Numbers don’t lie, people do.
      Some Palestinians suffer from water shortage, but who’s at fault?
      Here’s what the world-bank has to say about the situation – warning: reading the truth may hurt your feelings.

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      • Chaim

        Guys, I suggest this really good water report by Alhaq. It does a lot to document how the implementation of the Israeli water policy has harmed Palestinian livelihoods. http://tinyurl.com/k4okcvh

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    8. Max, that is not what the World Bank has to say on water shortages. That is what the state of Israel’s own water authority has to say in response to criticisms levelled against Israeli policy…by the World Bank. The World Bank opted to publish the Water Authority’s response to its criticism on its website, which is what you’ve linked to. Did you even read the report? The logo at the top should make it pretty clear that it wasn’t the World Bank who wrote it.
      If you are seriously going to cite the Israel Water Authority as proof that Israel doesn’t bear responsibility for the acute water shortages endured by Palestinians, you might as well go ahead and accept the the state’s opinions on the settlements and occupation too (the former are perfectly legal and the latter doesn’t really exist). Here is the World Bank’s own assessment of the situation, to which the Israel Water Authority was responding:

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    9. Thank you Sam Bahour for your comment! I changed the cross section according to your remark.

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    10. max

      @Vicky, thanks for the correction!
      “Did you even read the report?” – why don’t you make the effort and tell us where does the Bank report contradict the Israeli one?

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    11. Laurent Szyster

      You got to love how B’Tselem report downplays why the evolution of water demand surged in the West Bank since 1967:

      “The demand for water in the Occupied Territories increased at a greater rate since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967 because of the relative increase in the Palestinian standard of living following integration of the economies of the Occupied Territories and Israel.”

      Prior to 1967, a little less than 90% of Palestinian housholds were not connected to water infrastructure. The number was 20% in 1995, evil zionist water thieves …

      And it gets better.

      “Israel instituted restrictions and prohibitions that had not existed under Jordanian and Egyptian control. These restrictions and prohibitions are a principal reason for the water shortage and the resultant water crisis.”

      Because Israel’s governement actually cares for the future, israeli water consumption went from 504 m3/year of fresh natural water per capita in 1967 to 137 m3/year in 2009.

      The Palestinian Authority could not care less and preferred neither to reign in water fraud nor maintain the infrastructure it inherited from the occupation.

      “Leakage from pipes due to defective maintenance and old infrastructure result in the loss of one-third of the amount of the water supplied in the West Bank.”

      It’s so much easier to do nothing and then blame it on the Jews …

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    12. Dear Laurent,
      You complain that people(always) hold the Jews responsible even if it’s not their fault. In this specific case you don’t mention, that it’s forbidden for Palestinians to drill as deep a is necessary to reach the water leading aquifer! So even if you are right with the rest of your statement- the present situation is far away from equal water rights!

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    13. Gray

      Since 1905, Europe’s Zionists have schemed to steal even the WATER of other Native, Levantine Residents and with professional expertise, have succeeded:

      “ICE Case Studies”

      “Almost half of the water currently used in Israel is captured, diverted or preempted from its neighbors.”

      I can think of no other instance in World History in which Violent “One Race”, FOREIGN, Terrorist Gangs (Irgun Stern, etc) have Invaded, Massacred, Expelled, Starved and Criminally Occupied a Native Population for 60+ years, THEN Blamed them for Struggling to Survive.
      Peace is possible ONLY with the Equal Enforcement of ALL U.N Resolutions, yes, even dusty, old #242 & #338!

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    14. Maor

      Regarding the 80%-20% sentence: this is a distorted presentation of the issue. This might be the actual usage of water, but are the Palestinians allowed to use only 20% of the water, or they are ultimately using only 20%? The water agreements between Israel and the PA, I once read, gave maximum quantities for yearly consumption of water of each side. The thing is that Israel is using 100% of what it is allowed to use, and the Palestinians use less than 70% of what they are allowed to use.

      Why is that? why don’t the Palestinians use more water? why are there villages in the West Bank without water infrastructure? (and is it only in areas A and B, under the PA responsibility, or also in C?) and who’s fault this is, Israel or the PA, or both?
      These questions require a serious examination rather than simple demonization and incitement like we often see when it comes to water usage in the PT.

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    15. Palden Jenkins

      Dear Maor When I host foreign visitors to the West Bank, I tell them that one way to identify Palestinian houses is simply to note the water tanks on top of the houses – Israeli houses don’t have these. This is because water is rationed for Palestinians – it comes through the pipes only irregularly. Meanwhile, Palestinians pay water charges which subsidise settler’ charges.
      One reason Israelis consume more water than Palestinians is their Western lifestyle: Palestnians don’t have grass lawns, swimming pools, and they generally use dry rather than irrigated farming.
      A few months ago I visited a water-pumping station in a Palestinian area just south of Bethlehem financed by USAid. Ah, good, thought I – paliative aid – only to discover that the water goes to Israeli settlemnts 10km away. Hmmm. One small example of what actually happens on the ground.
      Please don’t rely solely on generalised statistics: the on-the-ground situation is what’s really happening.

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    16. Maor

      Palden, thanks for the info. I guess the situation is complex and not identical in different areas. An important question remain – who is responsible for the water infrastructure and usage in Palestinian localities in the West Bank? In areas A and B this is the Palestinian Authority, not Israel. Of course they do need Israel’s cooperation, but should we immediately conclude that every water problem in Palestine is Israel’s fault? Perhaps the PA shares at least some responsibility no this matter? I would like to know, and it’s hard to get this information from the visualization above. It is at best misleading.

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