Occupied drinking water
Abu Omar, the mayor of Kafr ad Dik (كفر الديك), informed the IWPS team about the issues that the town of 5,800 is facing in everyday life under the occupation, including: acute shortage of water, pollution of water by sewage and industrial waste, and harassment of children by settlers.
The mayor reported that sewage from the illegal settlement of Ariel and from Salfit city is their biggest issue, for it is being dumped directly in the water supply in the neighboring valley, Ein el Matwi (عين المطوي). At first only Ariel settlement’s sewage was released there, but two years ago Palestinian District center Salfit also began to release its sewage in the same place. A water purification system was planned for the site of the sewage pollution, but Israel did not agree on building the system in Area C. Therefore the sewage still flows freely on Palestinian farmers’ land, poisoning their agriculture and polluting their water.
The neighboring village of Bruqin, situated between Kufr ad Dik and el Matwi, is building a pipe to carry the water through their village underground. The mayor of Kufr ad Dik hopes that he will get money from the Palestinian Authority to do the same thing, but so far it seems like their village will be suffering into the future.
Abu Omar showed the IWPS team the valley on the south side of the village, called Ein el Fawara (عين الفواره). He said that this was a beautiful valley before, with a natural spring and many kinds of trees. Now sewage is running through it, so most of the land and its olive trees, some so ancient they were planted in Roman times, are being poisoned. In January 2014 the Palestinian Ministry of Health tested the spring water in Fawara, which showed that the water here is no longer suitable for drinking.
Since Israel has been controlling water use, Kafr ad Dik gets only 250-300 cubic meters of drinking water. The population of 5,800 individuals would need at least 1,000 square meters of water, excluding animals and plants.
The shortage of water is creating an environmental issue at home for many families. For example, most families don’t flush the toilet until it is full, to save water. The municipality has to shut the water off from certain places so the water can be accumulated and pumped to higher areas. All this results in most villagers having no choice but to continue using this contaminated water for drinking, due to the acute shortage. There is not enough water for agriculture. Another issue that comes with the sewage is that it attracts pigs and mosquitoes. The average family spends about 100 shekels monthly to fight mosquitoes.
The town encompasses an area of 17,000 dunums, of which 70% is in Area C, where none of the villagers are permitted to build. They can only build in the valley of Fawara, which is nearly impossible because of the steepness of the terrain. This makes it very difficult for the village to develop and expand, so a lot of people leave for the bigger cities. Four agricultural buildings on one side of the village have already received housing demolition orders. Also, villagers need a permit from Israel to cross into Area C to harvest their land in the harvest season.
Not far from Kafr ad Dik, another new illegal Israeli settlement ‘Leshem’ is being built. “This is like a cancer,” the mayor says. “We go out of Palestine by force, not by our own will.” Settlers harass villagers, who have to ask permission to clean their land. They are given only 1-2 days, even if they cannot finish. Settlers also release wild pigs onto Kafr ad Dik land. Settlers harass children if they stay out after 4 or 5pm, holding them against their will, calling them names, and threatening them with big dogs.
He also reported that within a month the Israeli army arrested 3 children from Kafr ad Dik. The kids were beaten and their homes were destroyed from inside at the time of the arrest.
The mayor says there is nothing legal about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Ownership of olive trees is only acknowledged if the trees were planted before 1967 by the same owners. If they don’t plan for 10-15 years, they are considered absentee owners, but they are prevented from reaching their land.