JUSTICE AND PEACE COMMISSION
Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries
Of the Holy Land
August 19, 2022
A cry in the heat of the summer to respect the right to water
Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
As the northern hemisphere passes through a scorching summer, we hear the voices of the thirsty rising up from our land. Water is a vital resource for human existence. The right to water is also basic right. Like in many places in the world, in Israel, people benefit from running water to meet their household needs twenty-four hours a day. However, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians face severe water shortages, especially during the summer months. Some of them have no running water during parts of the summer.
Israel maintains strict control of all water resources in Palestine (the areas of the Palestinian Autonomy and those areas under direct Israeli control). The Israeli authorities have not advanced the development of the water infrastructure in these areas nor its maintenance, causing dire hardship. This is not only causing drastic shortages but also the degradation of the quality of water when it is available.
Worst off are dozens of communities that the Israel authorities prevent from connecting to a functioning water grid, forcing them to buy water privately at considerable cost. The cost increases when water must be transported in areas where there is no easy road access due also to developmental neglect.
Those who work in agriculture in rural areas are particularly badly hit by the water shortage. They have to pay five to nine times the regular price for water, which many cannot afford. They must often abandon their agricultural lands, which can then be confiscated by the Israeli authorities. While Palestinian zones become wasteland because of the lack of water, Israeli settlements in these same areas continue to boast of green lawns and swimming pools.
We call on the Israeli authorities to respond to this basic human need and allow residents of Palestine to construct water cisterns and repair destroyed ones in order to gather rain water and store purchased water. We also hope that this attention to a basic human need will end the destruction of water cisterns by the Israeli army, also impeding Israeli settlers from doing the same.
In the past fifteen years, hundreds of cisterns have been destroyed by the Israeli army or settlers.
This destruction leads to depopulation, often in areas where Israel is seeking to intensify the presence of settlers.
The need for water is universal and God sends his rain down on one and all. Is anyone listening to this cry?