Missing Peace | missingpeace.eu | EN

The Independent And Amnesty International Spread Lies About Water Shortage In West Bank

By Missing Peace


Yochanan Visser, June 19, 2016

This article first appeared at Western Journalism.com

EXPOSED: The Truth About Israel’s Role In Palestinian Water Shortages

On Wednesday, June 15th, the British newspaper The Independent ran a story about a severe water shortage in Palestinian towns and villages in Samaria, the northern part of the so-called West Bank.

“Ramadan 2016: Israel cuts off water supply to West Bank during the holy month Ramadan” read the headline above the article, which was written by Peter Yeung, who bills himself as an “award-winning freelance journalist.”

“The northern city of Jenin, which has a population of more than 40,000, said its water supplies had been cut in half by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. Jenin is home to a refugee camp, established in 1953, which contains 16,000 registered refugees,” Yeung wrote before quoting an Al Jazeera report that cited Ayman Rabi, executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group.

Rabi claimed that some areas where Palestinian Arabs live didn’t receive water for 40 days.

“Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day,” he told the Arab news organization.

The Independent article received thousands of “shares” and “likes” on social media, and its claims led to condemnation by Amnesty International.

Israel already allows Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources in the occupied West Bank, with unlawful Israeli settlements getting almost unlimited water supplies which enable settlers to maintain lush gardens and even fill up numerous private swimming pools,” Saleh Hijazi, who is described as an “Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories researcher,” told The Independent.

“Water is a basic need and a right. Mekorot should restore any water supplies to Palestinians it has cut off, and the Israel authorities should end their discriminatory water policies, lifting all arbitrary restrictions it currently imposes on Palestinians’ access to this vital resource,” Hijazi charged.

The Independent also asked the Israel government to react, and an unnamed spokesman said that there was no truth in the claims made in Yeung’s article. The water shortage was the result of “faulty water lines,” the spokesman said, and he reported that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories’ Civil Administration team had “repaired a burst pipeline, which disrupted the water supply to the villages of Marda, Biddy, Jamma’in, Salfit, and Tapuach. “

COGAT is the Israel Defense Forces body that is in charge of civil affairs in the territories conquered by Israel in June 1967 during the Six Day War.

So who was telling the truth? Yeung, Hijazi and Rabi, or the Israeli government spokesman and COGAT?

As has happened on numerous occasions when a report on the water issue in Judea and Samaria was published, the whole story proved to be a hoax.

True, there is currently a water shortage in parts of the West Bank, but it is not the result of “Israel’s policies,” nor is it true that Israeli “settlers” receive “unlimited water supplies” while Mekorot, Israel’s water company, has cut off supplies to the Palestinian Arabs, as Hijazi claimed.

Here is what really happened.

UK Media Watch in England investigated the claims in The Independent article and reported that both the Palestinian Arabs and the so-called settlers, the Jews who live in Israel’s biblical heartland, received reduced water allocations recently.

Furthermore, Hijazi’s claim that settlers waste a huge amount of water and “fill up numerous private swimming pools” is false. Few pools have been built in the mainly religious Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and water usage by the residents is lower than the average in the rest of Israel and only slightly higher than what the Palestinian Arabs use.

The shortage mentioned in the first part of The Independent article was the result of a burst pipeline that has now been repaired by COGAT. After the article’s publication, COGAT released video evidence of the burst pipe.

As for the structural water shortage mentioned by “researcher” Hijazi, this is the result of neglected maintenance of the water infrastructure in the territories under Palestinian Authority control.

A staggering 33 percent of all water that is allocated to the Palestinian Arabs gets lost because of leaks in the pipelines.

Another reason for the structural water problem is the Palestinian refusal to carry out water projects that have been approved by the joint Israeli-Palestinian water Committee that is in charge of the further development of the water infrastructure in the disputed territories in Judea and Samaria.

In some cases, these projects not only had been approved but also had received foreign funding. The Palestinian Water Authority, however, didn’t take any action to implement these projects even after Israel offered to fund them and to help with the construction.

Furthermore, since 2010 the Palestinian Water Authority has refused to attend the meetings of the Joint Water Committee that even continued during the Second Intifada that raged from September 2000 till the end of 2004.

This Western Journalism correspondent has written several articles that contained hard evidence that the PA deliberately created a shortage of water in the territories under its control and uses water as a weapon against Israel. This situation continues to this very day, but the mainstream media and many nongovernmental organizations continue to publish the Palestinian propaganda on this issue.

In this case, the truth is that Mekorot recently increased the water supply to several Palestinian areas, and this was done during nighttime because of Ramadan, when almost all Palestinian Arabs are fasting during the day and drink and eat during the night. COGAT gave an example of the increased water supply and said that 5,000 extra cubic meters of water had been delivered to the Hebron and Bethlehem area every day since June 7.

COGAT sent this information to The Independent, but the paper left it out the report.

The newspaper also refused to correct the article.

Elchanan Poupko, an American writer, told Western Journalism that he called the editors of The Independent and asked them to rectify the article. They told Poupko that the official Israeli response was in the article so the report was fair.

“The Independent editors were exceptionally rude and obnoxious,” Poupko told Western Journalism.