Qabalan, Yatma

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Alix Weitzman, Micky Fisher, Ora Shinitzky (reporting); Translator: Hanna K.

Qabalan and Yatma

At the request of Karin Lindner we arrived to collect quantitative data about the inadequate water supply to the villages of Qablan and Yatma in the summer season, in order to formulate a complaint to the Israeli authorities who are responsible for the water supply to the inhabitants of the West Bank.

In the two villages we visited there is a serious water shortage. In addition to the fact that the amount is much less than what us necessary, the amount is changed arbitrarily by Israeli authorities who “govern the faucets” and the water supply.

It is unthinkable that in the 21st century residents shouldn’t have water for domestic and agricultural use.

10:30 – The village of Qabalan

We organized the meeting with the mayor H.A. for the morning of Monday. He was happy to meet us although he hastened to go to another meeting, and took pains to sit with us and to answer all our questions before he set out to his other meeting.

The population of the village amounts to: 10.000 persons.

A review of the water situation in the village

Israel, by means of the Mekorot Company, is responsible for the water supply to the village, via the Palestinian Authority. Mekorot sell the water to the Palestinian Authority, who sells the water to the village. The price of the water per cubic meter – 2.8 IS.

The supply during the summers months is very limited – the village receives only 12.000 cubic meter per month, for all its inhabitants. This amount suffices for the usage of about a third of the inhabitants. During the last two months the amount they receive was reduced, without prior notification, to 8.000 cubic meter per month.

The Municipality sent letters of complaint to the Water Administration of the Palestinian Authority, with a request to increase the amount of the water, and the Administration probably approached the Mekorot Company, but the answer they got was negative – there is no possibility to increase the amount of water.

Because of the limited amount of water, the Municipality divides the village into 9 regions. Each region receives water by water pipes only during 2-3 days per month. Thus the water which each house receives during those days, suffices for essential purposes only – drinking and washing. On the days on which there is water in the pipes the inhabitants try to fill the black containers which are situated on the roof of each house in the village.

On the rest of the days the inhabitants complete the lacking amount of water by buying water from water tankers which private entrepreneurs operate and sell to the inhabitants at a price of 20 IS per cubic meter.

The Head of the village estimates that the amount of water needed by each person is 50-60 liters per day, and this for domestic needs only.

Each villager must manage his own water economy, there are no other sources.

The Municipality and the Authority help poor household who are unable to finance water at the price of 20 IS per cubic meter.

At Qabalan there was no well and there is no permit to dig wells by the Civil Administrationinfo-icon which is responsible for every change in a village situated in Zone B.

Furthermore, the diameter of the pipe which arrives from Mekorot is 4 or 6 inch. About 4-5 years ago Mekorot changed the pipe which joins the Mekorot pipeline to the village pipe for a pipe which has a smaller diameter, and this lowered the speed of the water flow.

During the winter the problem is not as grave, as in every yeard there is a water pit which gets filled up by rain water, so the amount supplied to each household suffices. Today, in the midst of summer, all the pits are empty.

A direct result of the limitation of the amount of water supplied to each household is the almost total liquidation of the local agriculture.

-      In the village there remain today about 3-4 chicken coops while just a few years ago there were about 20 such coops on which the livelihood of the families depended.

-      There are no agricultural growths in the hothouses

-      There are almost no cows and sheep in the village

The farmers which were unable to continue growing agricultural products looked for work in the West Bank and in Israel, especially in the building business.

11:30 The village of Yatma

A conversation with an employee of the council, M., who is responsible for the distribution of the water to the inhabitants, and with the Head of the Council.

The population of the village: 5000 persons.

Here too, as in the nearby village of Qabalan, Israel, by means of the Mekorot Company, is responsible for the supply of water to the village, via the Palestinian Authority. Mekorot sell the water to the Palestinian Authority who sells it to the village.

The course of the water supply: The Mekorot Company has a central water drilling plant for the entire Nablus Zone, near the Huwwara. From there the water is made to flow to the region of the villages and the settlements at the Za’atara interjection, to a building situated at the Rehelim settlement and from there in separate pipes to the different villages, according to the allocation decided upon by the Mekorot Company. The village of Yatma received about 5000-6000 cubic meters per month (about 25-35 liters per person per day).

The village pays for the water supply directly to the Authority, and the Authority pays Mekorot. The head of the village has no connection with Israeli authorities.

Due to the fact that the faucet which enables the water flow to the pipe bringing water to the village is situated in Rehelim, the Head of the Council pointed out that inhabitants of Rehelim as well as soldiers could limit the amount of the water directed to the village, without reason or prior notification.

On the day of our visit water was supplied to the village at a rate of 13 cubic meters per hour, while on the day prior to our visit the rate was 5 cubic meters per hour. It is important to point out the we were told that for domestic needs the village requires 25-30 cubic meters per hour.

In this village too the distribution of the water is according to quarters. Each quarter receives water 5-6 days per month, and on those days the inhabitants of that quarter fill up the black water containers which are situated on every roof of the village houses. On other days, on which there is no water supply to that quarter, the inhabitants use the water which was collected on the containers on the roof.

The council employee with who we talked is responsible for the water distribution to the different quarters by means of opening and closing of the main faucet on the pipe that brings water to each quarter. In this village the inhabitants usually don’t buy water out of private tankers. People who have no water at all are helped by neighbors. The daily activities such as laundry, cleaning etc. are carried out according to the availability to the water.

12:30 We went on a tour of the village. At first we arrived at a building where the main faucet to the village is located, and where there is a water meter which measures the rate of the water supplied to the village (in a pipe that arrives from Rehelim). In this room there are also pumps whose purpose is to make the water flow to the water tower which has been built a year and a half ago, and which is located on top of a hill. This tower was built in order to serve a water reservoir for periods of dryness or faulty water supply.

A second station of our tour was the reservoir. We climbed up to the opening of the tank and saw that it was in fact empty. The water that is directed to it flow immediately out for the use of the inhabitants, so that there are no reserves at all and the building, in the present situation, cannot fulfill its purpose and becomes completely obsolete.


In the course of our visit the municipality employee responsible for the water supply as well as the head of the council received innumerable phone calls from inhabitants complaining about water shortate.

On the way to the reservoir we stopped at a grocery in one of the quarters, where they complained that water didn’t reach them. The council employee checked the main faucet of the shop and indeed no water flowed from it.


In this village too the direct results of the water shortage is the nearly complete destruction of the agriculture and the passage of the inhabitants to work in nearby towns or in Israel. The villagers don’t even succeed in keeping up the small vegetable gardens near their houses.

At the council building we met a farmer who still has a hen coop with about 3500 hens. He fears very much that all the hens are going to day as there is no water to drink for them. This farmer is the only hen coop owner left in the village. This month he is left without money to buy water from a private tanker.


As mentioned in this village each inhabitant receives about 30 liters per day. The head of the council tells us that the settlements in the vicinity get 1000 liters per person per day. This fact is manifested in the groves and vineyards planted near the settlement, which can be seen on both sides of the road leading to Esh Kodesh, Eli and Shilo.

A important remark

According to “Mey Sova” – a regional corporation for water and sewerage, the domestic daily consumption per person is between 100 to 230 liter and on the average about 165 liters. The monthly domestic consumption of a citizen in the State of Israel is about 7 cubic meters.

Another piece of information we got from the head of the village concerning daily life in the village:

-      The Rehelim settlement took over about 1200 dunams of the village of Yatma

-      Only about 10% of the inhabitants of the village who finish studies at the different universities in the West Bank succeed in finding jobs which suit their education.

-      On the day of our visit we heard from time to time sounds of fireword explosions. Today the high school students received the results of the matriculation examinations. There aren’t many reasons to rejoice these days the Major said, so success at the exams is a good reason for partying.

-      The major told us that in the schoolbooks in the West Bank sentences containing a reference to mass destruction weapons and to such containing words refereeing to civil activities.