General, Occupied Territories, Press Releases
Photo: Village of a-Duqaiqah, South Hebron Hills, not hooked up to water grid; villagers purchase water from water-trucks, paying 4 times as much as the average water tariff for private use in Israel. By Nasser Nawaj’ah, B’Tselem
We have recently been asked why we are not working on the irregular supply of water to the settlements amidst this heat wave. Our response:
The provision of a regular water supply to a community regardless of the residents’ ethnic or religious identity is a very serious matter. So long as the settlements are facts on the ground, we must protect the rights of their residents. Our operating principle as an organization are such:
Just as an organization which distributes food focuses on those who do not have food, it should come as no surprise that a human non-governmental rights organisation focuses on those who have no representation in the government. In Israel, this means Palestinians and people living in poverty, both Jewish and Arab. The settlers, on the other hand, are overrepresented in the government relative to their ratio in the general population. We are therefore certain that this representation will make every effort possible in order to find an appropriate solution to this serious issue. However, if the government is still unable to come to an acceptable solution, you are welcome to contact us and we will see what we can do. Even so, if senior ministers such as Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel, who represent the settlers, have been unsuccessful, it is doubtful that a small NGO will have the power to change things. We very much hope this unfortunate situation will soon be resolved for the entire population.
As for our efforts, we are working with Palestinian villages in Area C that are under full Israeli responsibility and control regarding civilian matters, and of which many are not connected to water infastructure year round. Israel, who is responsible for civilian affairs in Area C, not only refuses to connect these villages to the water infastructure, but also prevents Palestinian initiatives to develop water infastructures and solutions. Even wells for collecting rain water are regularly destroyed. Additionally, another 220 Palestinians enclaves not in Area C, initially designed as a temporary phase, are dependent on Israel and also subsist with almost no water sources.
The principle that one must provide special assistance to those that do not have power in the governing institutions that impact their lives is also rooted in Judaism. For example Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, one of the fathers of modern Orthodoxy, warns of a situation wherein the strong take it upon themselves to decide for the weak and the voiceless.