Beit Ommar, West Bank Face Serious Water Problems

6 August 2011

The lack of access to clean water represents a major problem in the West Bank, particularly for rural farming villages such as Beit Ommar. The problem has escalated since 2005, as Israel steals more and more Palestinian water, allocating less each year to the Palestinian Authorities to distribute.

For example, the settlements surrounding Beit Ommar have unlimited access, all week, to water for their many swimming pools. Simultaneously, the Israeli authorities stopped the water supply to the Palestinian village of Beit Ommar for four days each week. As a result, residents of Beit Ommar have to travel many kilometres by foot, donkey, or motor vehicle, to buy back the water which has been stolen from them by Israel.

The theft and control of Palestinian water supplies is an essential part of the wider Israeli strategy: to make life so unbearably difficult for the Palestinians that they leave their lands and emigrate.

Israel’s actions have resulted in a situation where farmers are desperately short of water, where only one 100L tank of must serve their household consumption, as well as irrigating their fields ad allowing their livestock to drink.

As with many of Israel’s apartheid policies, it is the Palestinian children who suffer terribly, as their families have no access to water to drink, cook meals, or wash, during the extremely hot summer.

A small number of households in the village have been able to build individual water storage tanks, however very few families can afford such equipment. PSP are working on a project to install larger communal tanks which will serve several households. Current plans aim to build around 100 of these tanks within one year, which should provide a huge help to a large percentage of the village’s population.
The right to have access to clean water is amongst the most basic and fundamental human rights. Water is life; for drinking, cooking, washing, growing crops, and tending to livestock. Only through addressing the water needs of the local population can we solve many of the serious issues they face.