Israeli Theft of Water and Land: A Model Case of Ethnic Cleansing
Posted by terres on October 17, 2007
When your neighbors ambush your family’s water supply!
How would you like to be a Palestinian living in Tuwani, the surrounding villages or indeed anywhere in the West Bank where the water you need to sustain even the most basic lifestyle is taken away from you by the occupiers of your land to fill their swimming pools and water their manicured lawns and orchards on the edge of the desert?
AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: Water
September 10, 2007
by Eileen Hanson http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/cpthebron/ message/995
I arrived back in Tuwani after short time away and the first thing I heard about was a big meeting here this morning about water. Living on the edge of the Negev desert, water is a major concern here. Normally the winter rains fill cisterns in the area, which supply water through the dry summer months. People use cistern water for watering their flocks as well as for household cleaning and bathing. The well is the village source for drinking water. All the cisterns are empty now, and the well is very low.
Many families have already brought in a truck of water to fill their cistern. However many others probably cannot afford to do this. The men of Tuwani and a number of surrounding villages met this morning to discuss the situation.
Life in this area has never been easy. Water has always been scarce. But people have been living here for thousands of years and have developed ways of living to meet the challenges of the environment.
But things have changed in recent years. Twenty years ago the settlement of Ma’on was established on land belonging to families living in Tuwani. Many of the cisterns traditionally used by families from Tuwani and neighboring villages have been taken over by settlers. Palestinians are either physically unable to access them, or fear violence if they approach what was once their family’s land and cistern.
The settlement of Ma’on with its green manicured lawns, irrigated fields and orchards, draws water from the underground aquifer that supplies this entire area. The Tuwani village well is low because the aquifer is getting lower and lower by the year.
This is not an uncommon story. Throughout the West Bank, settlements are taking the lion’s share of water, leaving Palestinians with scarce resources. Some estimates of settler water usage are as high as 8 or 9 to 1 compared with Palestinians water use. Many other villages in the Hebron district are also experiencing serious water shortages. It is clear just by looking as the contrasting lifestyles of Tuwani and the settlers at Ma’on that settler use of water is completely out of tune with the environment here. Worst of all, it is destroying the possibilities for others to sustain even the simplest life here.
People in Tuwani do not want water to fill up swimming pools. They simply want enough water for their flocks and their families to have enough to drink and bathe. Local Palestinians continue to live a life close to the land and respectful of the resources. It is the settlers who refuse to admit that they are living on the edge of the desert and adapt accordingly.
The lack of water is also a real concern here in part because it presents yet another vulnerability of Palestinians to the occupying powers, the Israeli military and the Israeli settlers. Perhaps Palestinian villagers can band together and buy water to provide enough until the rains come in November or December. But water trucks are a very visible target. Other villages have had roads blocked, or trucks attacked and been unable to get water to the village. A difficult situation becomes even more complex when having to consider that your neighbors might ambush your family’s water supply.
This model case of ethnic cleansing also represents a clear instance of applied racism, in which the militarily stronger and ethnic cleansing state–its leaders, armed forces, and a major part of its media, intellectuals and citizenry, who would be called “willing executioners” if residing in a Western targeted state–in both words and actions treat the population in process of removal as inferiors (untermenschen in the Nazi mode). These inferiors are not merely discriminated against but freely abused with beatings, harsh treatment at checkpoints, home demolitions and expropriations in accord with Israeli desires, theft of land and water, and killings without penalty. […]
High Israeli officials have for years described the Palestinians as “cockroaches,” “lice,” “grasshoppers,” “animals,” “two-legged beasts,” a “cancer,” along with other epithets of dehumanization, and they have repeatedly devalued Palestinian life as compared with that of Jews (most recently, Olmert’s statement that “the lives and well-being of Sderot’s residents are more important than those of Gaza residents”; more dramatically, Rabbi Yaacov Perin’s “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail”). Palestinian numbers represent what in Israel is called a “demographic threat,” and Israeli academic and human rights activist Jeff Halper states that “schemes of ‘transfer’ have become an acceptable part of Israeli political discourse…[as Israel] actively pursues policies of displacement: exile and deportation, the revoking of residency rights, economic impoverishment, land expropriations, house demolitions, and other means of making life so unbearable as to induce ‘voluntary’ Palestinian emigration.”