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November 03, 2009

Amnesty Water Report Falsehood #5

Page 12 of Amnesty's "Troubled Water" report alleges that Israel has almost entirely frozen development of water infrastructure in the Palestinian areas. The report states:

Under the new Israeli military regime imposed in the OPT, Palestinians could no longer drill new wells or rehabilitate or even just repair existing ones, or carry out other any water-related projects (from pipes, networks, and reservoirs to wells and springs and even rainwater cisterns), without first obtaining a permit from the Israeli army. In theory such permits for drilling or rehabilitating wells could be obtained after a lengthy and complicated bureaucratic process; in practice, most applications for such permits were rejected. Only 13 permits were granted in the 29 years from 1967 to 1996 (when the PWA was established), but all of these were for projects for domestic use only and they were not sufficient to make up even for the replacement of wells that had dried up or fallen into disrepair since 1967. . . .

The regime put in place by the Israeli army not only prevented the development of new Palestinian wells and infrastructure, but also limited the use and upkeep of existing ones. It prevented the rehabilitation of old wells. . . (Emphasis added)

First, Amnesty ignores significant development in infrastructure since 1995. As the World Bank states:

The water and wastewater sector [in the West Bank and Gaza] has come a long way since 1995:

* A capable national institution, the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), has been built.

* The foundations for policy and operational coordination with Israel have been established;

* Several existing municipal distribution networks have been rehabilitated, new networks developed, and supplies improved; and several new wells have been drilled and many rehabilitated.

* Backbone primary network of bulk-water carriers are under construction in the West Bank and ready to be launched in Gaza;

* In Gaza not only have municipal networks and systems have been significantly upgraded, under an internationally recruited management contractor, effective managerial and operational systems have been established. . .

To be sure, the World Bank goes on to list more work that still needs to be done.

Second, what about Amnesty's claim that only 13 new wells were drilled from 1967 to 1995? As reported earlier by CAMERA here, during this period Israel drilled or permitted the drilling of over 50 new wells for the Palestinian population, laid hundreds of kilometers of new water mains and connected hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns to the newly built water system (Background: Water, Israel and the Middle East, Israel Foreign Ministry 1991; Marcia Drezon-Tepler, "Contested Waters and the Prospects for Arab-Israeli Peace," Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 30, No. 2, April 1994)

See Amnesty Water Report Falsehoods 1, 2, 3-4.

Posted by TS at November 3, 2009 07:17 AM


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