Water Convoy Reaches Parched Palestinian Village
7th of August 2009 was the first organized water convoy to the West Bank, highlighting the dire water shortage in Palestine. The water convoy took place in Qarawat Beni Zaid, a village in the Ramallah Governorate. This village, along with the neighboring villages of Kufr ‘Ayn, Deir Ghassani, Beitrima and Nabi Salah have not had running water since March 15th. During the past hot summer months, the average resident of these villages has consumed 37 liters of water per day, one sixth of the average provided to Jewish settlements in Israel and the occupied West Bank (235 liters a day). Organized by Israeli, Palestinian and international NGOs, the aim of the convoy was not only to provide temporary relief to these village by providing them with water, but also to protest the dire water situation in Palestine resulting from Israel’s monopoly of the water resources in the Occupied West Bank. In Israel and the settlements, 2 billion cubic meters of fresh water are consumed annually, while for 2.5 million Palestinians residents of the West Bank, the annual allotment is only 190 million cubic meters.
Three convoys left from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, each group consisting of 50 to 80 people. Stopping the Ramallah convoy on their way to the village, the IDF set up a temporary checkpoint, which the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv convoys had to negotiate when they arrived. The groups convened in the village square where they were greeted by the residents of the village as well as representatives of the local government. Locals immediately rushed to the water tanks and queued up in front of them, various containers in hand, eager to get them filled with water. Excited children laughed and danced in the water spurting from the trucks, while their elders scolded them, trying to use the water as efficiently as possible. Later on, officials from the community spoke on the need for greater attention paid to the question of water disparity in Palestine. They stressed their longing for peace, and the impossibility for that peace without immediate access to water. Hopefully this water convoy was the beginning of many future actions on the issue.