SCI-Italia e LOA Acrobax presentano, a Roma, una serata di festa per chiudere il progetto Grassroot Youth Democracy, promosso dallo SCI Italia e dal Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua
SCI-Italia e LOA Acrobax presentano una grande serata di festa per chiudere il progetto Grassroot Youth Democracy, promosso dal Servizio Civile Internazionale Italia Onlus e dal Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua, sostenuto dal programma Erasmus+, volto a promuovere la cittadinanza attiva a livello globale sui temi dei diritti e della democrazia.
L’artista Adriano Bono ci dedicherà per questo una Special Acqua Edition del suo Reggae Circus, venerdì 11 marzo presso LOA Acrobax, via della Vasca Navale, 6, Roma. Musica, arti circensi, video, ma soprattutto un ospite d’eccezione: Tonino Carotone!
Prima della festa, mercoledì 9 marzo, un convegno presso la Facoltà di Lettere Roma Tre illustrerà i risultati raggiunti da questo lungo progetto, attraverso un percorso lungo un anno. Un’occasione di confronto per costruire strumenti concettuali da poter mettere nella propria cassetta degli attrezzi. Non abbiamo necessità di chiudere in bellezza, ma di aprire uno squarcio di ragionamento critico, proporre e supportare le strade che conducano verso nuove garanzie e nuovi equilibri.
Prof. Giacomo Marramao, Professore di Filosofia e Preside della Facoltà di Filosofia dell’Università degli studi Roma Tre
Stefanie Roth, Attivista ambientale franco-svizzero e si occupa di ambiente, patrimonio e questioni sociali, con un’attenzione specifica a miniere e agricoltura
Marica Di Pierri, Attivista e giornalista, si occupa da anni di tematiche ambientali e sociali, con l’associazione ASud
Paolo Carsetti, Attivista del Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua, tra i promotori del referendum Del 2011 contro la privatizzazione del servizio idrico.
When Israel’s national water company operates more than 40 wells in the West Bank, appropriates Palestinian water resources and controls the valves, is it any surprise that priority is given to Israeli settlements?
Qarawat Bani Zeid is a small Palestinian town of 3,500 north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. There are no Israeli settlements in the immediate vicinity. The route of Israel’s separation wall does not run through the area and Qarawat is in Area A — under the full control of the Palestinian Authority. And yet, Israel’s military occupation and discriminatory policies manage to cut into everyday life.
“Our biggest problem is water,” explained Sabri Arah, a member of the town council. Qarawat sits atop the Western Aquifer, the largest and most productive sub-basin of the Mountain Aquifer, the main groundwater source in the West Bank, yet 80 percent of the town’s taps are dry. “Water is pumped out before it arrives to the town,” noted Arah.
The company pumping the water out is Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. Mekorot not only operates more than 40 wells in the West Bank, appropriating Palestinian water resources, Israel also effectively controls the valves, deciding who gets water and who does not. It should be no surprise that priority is given to Israeli settlements while service to Palestinian towns is routinely reduced or cut off.
The right to water was the focus of a recent delegation of the Italian Forum of Water Movements visiting Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Israel as part of the Beyond Walls project of Servizio Civile Internazionale, an Italian NGO committed to human rights and social justice.
Last December, during the Italy-Israel bilateral summit, a cooperation agreement was signed between Mekorot and Acea, Italy’s largest water utility.
Together with Palestine solidarity groups, Italian water movements have been waging a campaign calling on Acea, as well as the City of Rome, a majority shareholder in the company, to cancel the agreement due to Mekorot’s violations of international law. The main goal of the trip was to gather documentation and direct testimony to support the campaign against the Mekorot agreement, identifying ways to further involve Palestinian groups.
Mekorot’s role in water privatization around the world was an added incentive for Italian water movements to get involved. Water as a common good has been their focus of the movements, which have been hugely successful, several times over.
In 2010, over 1.4 million signatures forced a national Italian referendum on the issue. In June 2011, over 26 million ballots were cast, meeting the quorum for the first time since 1995, with a crushing majority of over 95 percent voting in favor of keeping water public.
Despite what could not have been a more clear indication, successive governments have attempted to circumvent the public’s will and the referendum remains unimplemented.
The Palestinians we met were able to relate to this turn of events. They, too, have to continually fight for their rights. Evidence of Israel’s discriminatory policies, which create an artificial water crisis affecting only one people, was everywhere to be seen.
At the Aida refugee camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem, a cramped, overcrowded home to about 5000 people, nearly 40 percent under the age of 14, water from the mains comes an average of 6 hours per week.
In his award-winning short film “Everyday Nakba”, Mohammed al Azzeh, of the camp’s Lajee Center, captures the joy and the frantic rush to get the pumps working to fill rooftop tanks the moment the water comes on.
“Look at the settlement of Gilo next door. Do you see any water tanks on their roofs?” asked Azzeh. “They have water 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The delegation also visited Palestinian communities within Israel, like Al Araqib where, despite being Israeli citizens, residents face nearly identical policies denying them access to water.
Across the world, as the part of the international campaign against Mekorot, those working for Palestinian rights have joined forces with those struggling against the privatization of water to denounce Mekorot’s role in both denying Palestinians access to water and in the commodification of a fundamental common good.
Stephanie Westbrook is a U.S. citizen based in Rome, Italy. Her articles have been published by Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Electronic Intifada, In These Times and Z Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @stephinrome.
“How do you tell the difference between an Israeli settlement and a Palestinian town? Just look at the rooftops.” That was advice given to a delegation of activists from the Italian movements against water privatization visiting Palestinian and Bedouin communities in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel as part of SCI Italy’s Beyond Walls project.
The rooftops of Palestinian houses are dotted with water tanks as a reserve for water that is never sufficient. However, it is not water that is lacking, but access. Israel’s discriminatory policies have created a manufactured water crisis used as one of the tools to drive Palestinians from their land.
Mekorot operates some 40 wells in the occupied West Bank and regularly reduces or cuts off water supplies to Palestinian communities, who are forced to purchase their own water from the Israeli company, in order to guarantee service to illegal Israeli settlements.
Israeli water policies towards Palestinians, and Mekorot’s role in implementing them, are perhaps most evident in the occupied Jordan Valley. The date palm plantations and greenhouses of Israeli agricultural settlements stretch out as far as the eye can see. Perched on the hills throughout the valley are Mekorot water tanks, while the company’s deep wells and pumping stations are drying up Palestinian water sources, leaving Palestinian towns, and the valley’s farmers, without sufficient water. Some Palestinian farmers have taken the drastic step of cutting down their own trees and crops. No longer able to work their own fields, many Palestinians have no other choice but to work as day laborers in the settlements.
In the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, where 13,000 refugees have lived on little more than one square kilometer since they were forced from their homes in 1948, having water often comes down to timing. Water is turned on just once every two weeks and being home that day becomes crucial, as does having electricity and a working pump to fill rooftop tanks. Next door, at the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo there are no water tanks on the roofs and water runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
However, it is not just in the occupied West Bank that Israel is using denied access to water to force Palestinians from their land.
Although Al Araqib was founded in 1905 in the Naqab desert, the Israeli government considers it to be one of 176 so-called “unrecognized” villages. Israeli authorities refuse to provide even basic services to these villages, whose residents are citizens of Israel, including water and electricity. Making matters decidedly worse, since July 2010, Israel has demolished Al Araqib 76 times. Israel has confiscated the villages water tanks and declared it illegal to bring in water from outside the village. Meanwhile, not only is the neighboring Jewish Israeli settlement of Givot Bar, created just ten years ago, connected to the Israeli water network, it also refuses to sell water to the families of Al Araqib.
Demonstrating extraordinary sumud, or steadfastness, Palestinian communities have stood firm against Israeli policies, refusing to leave their land. And across the world, as part of the international campaign against Mekorot, groups working for Palestinian rights have joined forces with those struggling against the privatization of water to denounce Mekorot’s role in denying Palestinians access to water and oppose its international efforts to turn a profit from a vital common good. The Italian Forum of Water Movement and the No Acea-Mekorot campaign plan to use the first-hand accounts and documentation gathered during the trip to maintain pressure on Acea and the City of Rome, which owns a majority share in the company, to interrupt the agreement with Mekorot, defending the fundamental right to water, from Rome to Palestine.