Water in Masafer Yatta
By Basil Adara
Water in Masafer Yatta
The Israeli Occupation regime regularly cuts water pipes, demolishes wells, and confiscates water tanks in Masafer Yatta in order to deprive Palestinians and their animals of water. This policy is intentional and its goal is to make life difficult for us on a day-to-day basis and to force us to leave our land.
The residents of Masafer Yatta depend mainly on rainwater for a multitude of uses: drinking, cooking, bathing, watering their sheep, and farming their land.
They dig wells in the ground and build raised channels next to them to collect rainwater in the winter. This water, though, is only enough for 30% of each family's need, forcing families to buy water tanks as a supplement. One cubic meter of water costs about 35 shekels and the size of one tank is between ten and twenty cubic meters. The Israeli Occupation Forces demolish dozens of these wells under the pretext that they were built without a permit and confiscate many of these water tanks under the pretext that they were being transported through a “firing zone.”
In 2019, we decided to dig and install water pipes for the region as a solution to this injustice and our suffering. The water pipes extended 25 kilometers from Tuwani to reach 15 other communities in Masafer Yatta. It took more than two months for the work to be completed with most of the digging done by the residents with shovels at night. Over the course of the two months, people had to stop working several times because of the presence of army and settler drones in the area.
The network we built remained in existence for 40 days. It worked in every village two days a week due to the limited quantity, but it was like a dream. People were smiling as they filled their tanks and wells with water from these pipes.
Just a few weeks later, the Israeli Occupation Forces came with bulldozers and cut the 25km of water pipes that we had built. These pipes were supplying over 1000 people with water. I filmed the entire demolition: from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. It was a hot day and everyone was looking at the scene in silence. It was a disaster.
After the destruction of our water network, our suffering returned. We once again had to purchase water tanks at a very high cost and transport them over long distances while the settlers could access water through the state’s water network for themselves, their animals, and their farms without any obstacles.
This is one aspect of the apartheid reality we experience every moment of our lives