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.
We’ll get to the charge in the headline soon, but, to start, here’s the broad charge in the opening sentence:
Israel has cut off the water supply to large areas of the West Bank, Palestinian authorities have claimed.
Though an updated Indy version of the story noted COGAT’s 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 (Israel’s water carrier) was forced to reduce the overall supply to ALL areas of the West Bank – including in Jewish communities.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have reportedly been left wi
thout access to safe drinking water during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, at a time when temperatures can exceed 35C.
This is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.
We’ve been in touch with COGAT (the Israeli authority in the territories), who told us that, in order to accommodate Palestinians during Ramadan, when Muslims can’t 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 can’t 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 Indy’s charge that Israel malevolently “cut off water” to Palestinian Muslims during the month of Ramadan is pretty much the opposite of the truth.
Water consumption in the area has greatly increased during this period of the year and the water sources have decreased this year compared to last year due to the declining water level in the mountain aquifer, and therefore we have been compelled to reduce the water supply to all consumers.