This Thursday, on World Water Day, a protest called ‘Thirsting for Justice’ will take place in front of the Israeli High Court of Justice, Jerusalem. The demonstration for the Palestinian right to water has been organised by the Society of St. Yves, Catholic Centre for Human Rights who are based in East Jerusalem.
The right to water is a universal human right yet Palestinians suffer from a lack of this vital resource. Denying the Palestinian people proper access to water is just another policy of oppression employed by the Israeli authorities.
While most West Bankers have access to an average of 73 litres of water per day, Israelis use an average of 300 litres of water per day (Thirsting for Justice). The difference is even starker when comparing the illegal Israeli settlements with West Bank villages. In the Jordan valley, those living in the settlement of R’oi enjoy an average of 431 litres of water per day. Nearby, the Palestinian villagers of Al-Hadidiya have access to just 20 litres of water per day - 20 times less than the R’oi settlers and the UN level for a humanitarian disaster (B’Tselem 2011).
This form of apartheid has a catastrophic effect on agriculture and the Palestinian economy as well as on the daily lives of Palestinians.
The focus of the Thirsting for Justice Protest is on Israel’s increasing use of targeting Palestinian wells and cisterns with demolition orders, for many people who have been cut off from mains water pipes; the water cisterns collect is their only source of non-drinking water. Destroying these cisterns is a human rights violation.
The Society of St Yves writes why the demonstration is so important:
‘Increasingly since 2010, Israel has disproportionately targeted Palestinian cisterns with demolition orders which are illegal by all standards of Human Rights law, Humanitarian law, Israeli and domestic planning laws.
We believe that in the backdrop of World Water Day, March 22, we should bring attention to this very important issue by staging a demonstration in front of the Israeli High Court of Justice.
The High Court, in an unprecedented move, will start large-scale responses to the pending petitions and cases linked to planning laws in the West Bank that have accumulated over the years.
This remains the ideal time for the Society of St. Yves and other organizations to bring attention to not just individual cases but to the collective Israeli policies of destroying cisterns.
We hope to combine our resources in order to argue against the legality of Israel’s unfair military orders and their application.
As local and international organizations pertaining to water prepare for the World Water Forum in Europe, a domestic campaign must complement their actions. The intention of this demonstration will be to sensitize the public, media, and the judges of the High Court of Justice about the issues involving water structure demolitions, particularly cisterns.
We hope that the symbolism related to the date, the setting, and the solidarity between different organizations regularly facing the consequences of demolitions, will have an effect on public opinion and open the way to legal amendments of the planning laws’.
The Society of St. Yves is a human rights association that provides legal assistance for Palestinians. the main issues they focus on are Jerusalem Residency, Child Registration, National Insurance, Freedom of Movement, Land Confiscation, House Demolitions, Family Unification and awareness raising. For more information about the protest or the organisation, contact email@example.com or see http://saintyves.org.il/
To find out more about Palestinian rights to water and sanitation see http://www.thirstingforjustice.org/new/
Ella David for PNN