The latest smear against Israel in the British media involves a distortion used repeatedly by mainstream media outlets, NGOs and pro-Palestinian propagandists: the charge that Israel cruelly uses water as a weapon against innocent Palestinian civilians, cruelly denying the population an adequate supply.
However, even by the levels of inaccuracy we're accustomed to, the following headline and photo at The Independent represents an especially egregious example of agitprop being sold as real news:
Though there is much in the article (by Peter Yeung) thats misleading or inaccurate, well focus on the most sensational charges.
Well get to the charge in the headline soon, but, to start, heres the broad charge in the opening sentence:
Though an updated Indy version of the story noted COGATs response regarding a temporary shortage (a couple of hours) due to a burst pipe line, COGAT has informed us (in a series of emails) that the Indy did not publish the most relevant information. COGAT explained that, due to increased usage during the summer months, Mekorot (Israels water carrier) was forced to reduce the overall supply to ALL areas of the West Bank including in Jewish communities.
We sent an email to Mekorot, who then confirmed to us the increased demand during the summer months has resulted in shortages in the West Bank to Israeli settlements and Palestinian areas. A resident in an Israeli community in Samaria who we spoke to confirmed that the shortages have indeed affected Jewish communities.
Now, heres the charge in the article which was the basis of the headline:
This is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.
Weve been in touch with COGAT (the Israeli authority in the territories), who told us that, in order to accommodate Palestinians during Ramadan, when Muslims cant drink water during the day, the water supply has been increased during night-time in order to meet the needs of the residents.
Additionally, COGAT noted that, beginning at the start of Ramadan, on June 6-7, the water supply to Hebron and Bethlehem [was] expanded [by] 5,000 cubic meters per day in order to meet the needs of the residents.
So, to clarify, in summer months, the consumption of water naturally increases.
The water carrier cant keep up with consumption, so residents (both Muslims AND Jews) experience a shortage. Quite simply, the demand exceeds supply.
However, to make up for this shortage and, most importantly, to address the changing water needs of Palestinian Muslims during the holiday of Ramadan, Israel INCREASED the amount of available water to the Hebron and Bethlehem communities, and INCREASED the amount of available water during the night, the time when religious Muslims will need it the most.
So, the Indys charge that Israel malevolently cut off water to Palestinian Muslims during the month of Ramadan is pretty much the opposite of the truth.
Heres an alternative Indy headline, one which would more accurately reflect the facts.
Mekorot just replied to a specific follow-up question we asked late in the morning. As you can see, though it adds more details about the cause of the shortages, its fully consistent with the information we received from COGAT. The issue (affecting both Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank) is one of supply and demand, not an arbitrary decision by Israel to reduce the amount of water for Palestinians on Ramadan.