Today is sunny and hot in Yanoun, a village of some 75 people. And those of us in Upper Yanoun face the prospect of having no water. No water for showers, no water to do the dishes, no water for cooking, no water for the toilet. What to do, what to do?
Yanoun has two parts: Upper Yanoun where the EAPPI team lives with six families and a population of 36 people. The nearby spring has been the source of water for years for most months, for the residents and for their flocks of sheep and goats. However, when the spring runs dry, water has to be bought, trucked in, and shared among the families. And the spring is now dry.
Lower Yanoun is a brisk 20-minute walk down the hill. Thirty-nine people in 7 families live there. Lower Yanoun gets it water piped in from the nearby city of Aqraba. Water is available at the turn of a tap in these homes.
Why the difference in the two locales? It’s simple and it’s complex: Upper Yanoun lies in Area C and Lower Yanoun lies in Area B.
So what’s the deal on areas?
When the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Oslo Peace Accord) was negotiated in 2004, the parties divided the West Bank into three zones: Area A is land under the administration and control of the Palestinian Authority (by Palestinians for Palestinians); Area B, land under joint Israeli and Palestinian administration and control; and Area C, land under full Israeli administration and control. (http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/the israeli-palestinian interim agreement.aspx)
Over 60 percent of the West Bank is considered Area C. Less than 1 percent of Area C has been planned for Palestinian development by the Israeli Civil Administration; 70 % of Area C is off-limits to construction, and 29 % is heavily restricted. Communities depending on tankered water pay up to 400 % more for every litre than those connected to the water network. In communities without water infrastructure, consumption drops to 20 litres/per capita/per day. one-fifth of the World Health Organization’s recommendation.
Source: http://www.ochaopt.org/ – find Humanitarian Atlas, West Bank and Gaza Strip, December 2011 under Featured Items and click on it to download the Atlas (100 Mb). United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
So, anticipating that the spring in Upper Yanoun would run dry this year, those with foresight arranged to have the water network extended up the hill. Back in April, the head of Upper Yanoun received a Stop Work Order from the Israeli Civil Administration. So none of the homes were connected and water did not flow.
Recently, we noticed work in Lower Yanoun to connect the water network to the pipes leading to Upper Yanoun. So did the Israeli military from their Hill 777 military camp on their daily patrols. So, on Tuesday, May 28, the Civilian Authority, escorted by the Israeli military, delivered a Stop Work Order to Upper Yanoun.
On Wednesday, our water tank was empty. The dishes are piling up. Laundry is waiting. And some of us need showers.
The head of the village is making alternate arrangements to get water into the community, expensive as that may be. In the meantime, with the Municipality of Aqraba, Yanoun has engaged a lawyer to submit a plan for a water network to the Civil Authority. Given that only 1 % of all applications for development are approved, the answer will likely be no. All of the legal actions available will be pursued to delay the destruction of the water network that is now in the ground but not connected.
This is one of the features of everyday life in Area C in Palestine.
Blessings, Shalom, Salaam,