Turmos Ayya

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Aliyah S., Hanna Z. (reporting), Ana S. (reporting), with Nadim


In Turmos Ayya, water from home taps only runs for a single day every 8-10 days. Such is the unheard of and unacceptable situation of the last 12 years. “Mekorot” refuses to supply them directly or in sufficient amounts. In addition, their supplier, a Ramallah Company also sells them limited quantities of water from big mobile tankers, at an exorbitant price. In short, residents suffer in two ways: they pay an enormous sum for their water, much more than people in Israel do, but without satisfying the water needs of a modern society—their basic right, recognised by Israel and the UNO.

Turmos Ayya. We meet a senior official in the council who prefers to speak in Spanish. He is evidently among the 90% who left for America, and returned to their home town, often building big houses. 

Serious water shortage for 12 years. We ask about the water supply and hear about their terrible and unbelievable deprivation. Very unlike shortages in other villages, which we have been reporting; strangely, no one has ever mentioned this on our many visits. The council official reveals that for the past 12 years their water supply has been very insufficient and expensive; it arrives in two ways. First, every 8-10 days they have running water—but only for one single day.

On this special water day each family hurries to fill up its rooftop tank, and—in 50% of the homes—also the well in the courtyard. This stored water has to last them 9 days. Secondly, they buy water from big mobile tankers though again in limited, insufficient quantities. Their supplier, the  Ramallah Water Company also serves the neighbouring villages in rotation, i.e. one day for Turmos, one day for Singil, and so on.

        In both cases—from the running water system and from the mobile water tankers—the water comes indirectly from “Mekorot”. However, this Israeli company refuses to supply it directly to Turmos and to increase the amount they sell to their distributor, the Ramallah Company.

        This complicated and unsatisfactory method results from a historic arrangement. Answering our question— “Why does ‘Mekorot’ supply water directly to the villages we visit and not to you?”—-our host says that, when 30 years ago the village council could choose who would supply them with water, theirs was a political decision: Ramallah. However, in these 30 years the way of life has changed. Especially so, when many of the 90% of the residents, having lived long in the US and Latin America, have modernized their habits, their ways of thought, and now use drudgery-saving domestic machines. As our host says, “our parents needed less water, they didn’t have washing machines.”  But though a younger generation has since requested to revoke this unfortunate decision made by their elders, our host says sadly: “Mekorot” refuses to change the arrangement.

        In short, Turmos Ayya residents suffer in two ways: first, because despite this double system, they do not receive enough water for their daily water needs, especially during the long hot summer months. We are so used to always having running water, that it is hard to imagine their drudgery on non-water days. They have to repeatedly pour water into pails or jugs—and then out of them—for every one of the numerous water-based tasks, even just washing hands, face, or food.

Secondly, they are forced to pay an extravagant price for their basic right to water, a right recognised by UNO, and by the democratic State of Israel. For the single day of running water (followed and preceded by 8–10 days of no water) they pay 6 NIS for every 10 cubic meters. And for the same amount they pay 350 shekels when they buy from water tankers. An awful extortion.

        What about the settlers on the hill above them in Shilo? Naturally, they get all the running water they want, enough for their personal needs of drinking, cooking, hygiene, showers/baths, agriculture, industry—-any pets, chickens, sheep they may have—and of course gardens, lawns, and swimming pools. Our host thinks that the Palestinian villages are probably supplied less water to ensure that Shilo gets all the water they want.  

        Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain more specific details about this and other issues. Suddenly, our host ends our meeting. Someone talked to him, and perhaps reminded him of other matters he had to attend to. Or perhaps it was just too difficult for him to continue talking about such a painful and traumatic issue.