• West Bank

  • Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 5:37:29 AM
    Last Update : Friday, February 16, 2024 at 9:35 AM

Palestinian West Bank Farmers Accuse Israel of Seizing Their Water Shares

(AWP) - Farmers in al-Auja and the surrounding Palestinian villages in the Jericho and al-Aghwar governorate of the West Bank, are being forced to abandon much of the crops the area was famous for, like bananas, due to the drought that has affected their lands.

Despite the winter rains, al-Auja Dam, which retains the water of the largest and most abundant spring in the region, remains empty, and the flow of water in the spring has decreased significantly.

Palestinian farmer Muwafak Hashim, who was preparing his land for the spring and summer crops, accuses Israeli authorities of seizing water shares allocated to the West Bank and diverting it towards Israeli settlements.

Hashim said, “The [Israeli] occupation is constantly trying to steal Palestinian water and deprive us of every drop. This includes the total number of dams, pipes and wells that the occupation digs in the Jordan Valley areas, essentially stealing almost all the quantities of water.”

He added, “Through this act, the occupation’s intention is first to steal the Palestinian share of water, whether groundwater, rainwater, or canal water. All of these are under Israel’s control, which redirects it to its resources to irrigate settlements in the Jordan Valley areas through the Israeli water company called Mekorot.”

After conducting a geological survey, the Israeli water company (Mekorot) dug some deep wells in the area, leading to the drying up of many of the springs that flow in the winter and spring, affecting Palestinian farmers and contributing to the drying up of vast agricultural areas.

Mekorot provides water to several settlements in the northern Jordan Valley, and Fakhri Nujoum, Mayor of al-Auja, believes that significant efforts are needed to confront the drought and its effects.

Nujoum said, “The al-Auja area, which has the largest water spring in the Jordan Valley, was directly affected by the water traps. When the spring flows in the rainy season, things are good for us, but otherwise we suffer from drought. This issue has had a very negative impact on farmers.”

The mayor added, “When the crops have started to grow and the water dries up, it means all the crops dry up, and ultimately, there is no compensation for the farmers. This issue requires a great effort to preserve every drop of water in the Auja spring. The canals and ponds must be restored.”

Al-Auja’s water resources support its population of nearly 7000 Palestinians who live there and depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood.

Anti-settlement activist, Aref Draghmeh, says that “[Israeli] settlers now control the water sources and they have come to control everything water-related in the Jordan Valley areas by adopting different policies.”