Since ancient times, water has been a source of quarrel between the competing inhabitants of the Holy Land. The book of Genesis reveals such a quarrel between the ancient Israelites and the Philistines. Conflicts over water have continued ever since in this place. Today, the share of water for a Palestinian is one fourth of an Israeli share, and one sixth of the share of an Israeli settler in the West Bank. Israel has confiscated over 85% of the water resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. One of the reports prepared by the section on Palestine and occupied Arab territories at the Arab League revealed that Israel robs about 650- 800 Million Cubic Meters of water annually from the West Bank which is being pumped into Israel proper, and its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Surface water (Jordan River and Runoff): Since 1949 The Jordan River historical natural flow ranged between 1485 and 1671 Million cubic meter per year (Mcm/yr) at the entrance of the Dead Sea. However, and as a natural impact of Israeli diversion water projects (i.e. National Water Carrier-NWC), the average annual flow of Jordan River decreased dramatically to reach less than 75 Mcm /y in 2003.
Ground water: There are eight ground water basins in Palestine and Israel. Four lie completely within Israel (Tiberias, Western Galilee, Carmel, and the Negev). The other four basins (the North Eastern, Eastern, Western and Coastal Aquifers) lie partly or wholly in the West Bank and Gaza. The aquifer basins in the West Bank yield is 630 MCM per year of which Palestinians control and have access to 18% of it.
The West Bank was politically a part of Jordan from 1948 until the 1967 War, when Israel expanded its territory. Three main reasons prompted Israel to acquire and maintain control over this area after the 1967 war. Not necessarily in order of importance: First, control of this area would be a buffer zone between Jordan and Israel that could deter and withstand Jordanian advances. Second, Jerusalem and other West Bank cities are sentimental religious and cultural areas to the Israeli people. Third, West Bank aquifers are one of the main sources for Israeli water consumption.
In 1982 Ariel Sharon transfers all water supply systems of the West Bank to Israeli National Water Company, Mekorot, for the symbolic price of 1 ILS. Mekorot is the plural of Makor in Hebrew, literally meaning "Sources" (Haskel 1999; Kally 1993). Mekorot, the Israel National Water Company is in charge of the construction, operation, and maintenance of the water plants and the licensing of the various sectors for the use of water, such as urban communities, industries and irrigation users (Alquds 1999; Israel–mfa.gov 1999)
Even though about 80 % of these aquifers' average annual natural recharge originates from the West Bank mountains, most of their abstraction is being pumped from the Israeli wells that are generally situated along the West Bank-Israeli border. Upstream and downstream either literally means one area receives the water runoff from the area that is the headwaters of that water source, or figuratively that one area is not the primary controller of the water resources. Dominance and control of natural resources adds to the occupation and control over the people and their Land. Israel utilization and control reaches 82% of water resources in oPt compared to 18% controlled by the Palestinians from the three resources being Groundwater and runoff with nothing from the Jordan River.
"Lack of access to adequate, safe, and clean water has been a longstanding problem for the Palestinian population of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Though exacerbated in recent years by the impact of drought-induced water scarcity, the problem arises principally because of Israeli water policies and practices which discriminate against the Palestinian population of the oPt. This discrimination has resulted in widespread violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, which includes the human rights to water, to adequate food and housing, and the right to work and health of the Palestinian population.” Amnesty International, Troubled Waters - Palestinian’s denied fair access to water (2009)
Israel is the Occupying Power in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Under international humanitarian law, an occupying power is responsible for the welfare of the civilian population and must ensure that civilians are provided with or allowed to secure the basics for survival including food, water, medical supplies and shelter. Palestinians are guaranteed access to drinking water, water for personal hygiene and sanitation under the Geneva Conventions.
In accordance to the International Law and the International Humanitarian law, Human beings should have safe, sufficient, affordable and accessible water. “Where the basic service has not been achieved, hygiene cannot be assured and consumption requirements may be at risk. Therefore, providing a basic level of access is the highest priority for the water and health sectors”.World Health Organizations,” Domestic water Quantity, service level and health” page three.
ICC will continue to face up to the ongoing suffering of people affected by occupation practices not only through a specific response to aid but also intervention that denounces unjust practices that are often root causes to human sufferings. Accordingly, advocacy has become an integral strategic component in the organization directions towards tackling head on injustices.ICC is always keen in reflecting positive change in the lives of people we serve and is constantly challenged with problems that we felt could not be addressed through service provision and capacity building. This relates to the address of basic human rights of Palestinians with focus upon Water. The organization believes and thrives towards supporting peace with Justice amongst neighbors and people of the region. Peoples’ natural growth is not matched with appropriate allocation of water shares. Global warming did affect our area and affected rainfall seasons dramatically. The combination of climate change and ultimate control of water sources by the Israeli occupation became life threatening impacting all walks of life and increases the conflict intensity.
ICC sees its role towards reducing the conflict intensity emanating from water by bringing to the fore the seriousness of the issue and by doing so helps in an early just solution to the issue before it becomes beyond control. ICC is working with various forces of influence to bring about change, this is motivated by the communities’ willingness and commitment to “demand their rights” and realize them. The approach remains to be unique in the territories by way of understanding and application. The affected communities are the core of the issue and constitute the core of any approach. The ICC remains committed to shoulder the responsibility which stems from the core values of the Organization. The approach baseline is to be inclusive and participatory of the affected communities at all levels.
Participatory Approach: The Participatory Approach envisaged advocacy with the people by way of empowering the community through capacity building and have the community engaged with the work needed for the sake of their own cause by their own hands. To that effect, the evidence base approach became an integral component towards addressing the issue with factual database that may be used at the local and international arenas.
1. The local approach aimed to mobilize affected community towards building up and making their own case and pursue it with the appropriate authorities towards change of policy and practice.
2. As to the international approach our aim is geared towards global Church structures to demand and pressure Israel to change policy and practices in order to comply with international law and respect Palestinian human rights through a solidified position to affect change.