Qabalan, Yatma.

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Hanna Z., Nathalie , Ana S. (reporting), Mohammed, very helpful young driver, also translates


Mekorot still does not supply enough water to Qabalan. Ironically, now in the winter when cisterns are still full of rainwater, the amount has increased from the impossible 15-20 Lpcd in the summer to 60 Lpcd every 20 days. But this is still below the WHo minimum of 100 Lpcd (while Israelis enjoy 183 Lpcd). The municipality uses a rotation system and has supplied pre-paid water clocks to ensure equal distribution. Agriculture has been destroyed by (1) settlements’ expropriation of hundreds of dunams (2) only 4-5 days @ year are they permitted to farm and harvest their remaining lands, and (3) the terrible water shortage in the summer. Two years ago, twenty soldiers entered the home of A., the official receiving us, causing damage costing him 40,000 sh. to repair. Worse: they traumatized his 4 children, forcing them out of bed at 2 am. They found no weapons and apologized, but the harm was done.

Closures in both Qabalan and Yatma delay villagers travelling to and from their homes and increase travel time to Nablus and Jericho. Not content with the 2,000 dunams seized from Yatma, Lubban and Yasuf in 2012, Rehelim, Ariel and Shvut Rachel settlements are now planning to grab another 2,000 dunams from these unfortunate villages.


We were received by a new and energetic official A., who has taken up this job recently.

POPULATION: 12,000 according to a recent survey by local University students. When I mentioned that on 5.06.16, our last visit, we were told there were 9,000 people, A. said this was according to the last census in 2006.


WATER: SERIOUS SHORTAGE: Mekorot now provides every 20 days 60 litres @day per person (Lpcd). A. says they should have 80 Lpcd, apart from the needs of their animals. He is modest, I tell him, for the WHO stipulates 100 Lpcd as a minimum (Israelis receive everyday 183 Lpcd) (Retrieved B’tselem 2010; 2016).

To ensure an equal distribution of water, the baladia (municipality) uses two strategies: (1) supplying each home with a pre-paid water clock so that a household of 10 people receives only 12,000 l for 20 days; homes with less people get less water. That is, every 20 days, each one gets 60 Lpcd (60 litres @ day per person). (2) opening the water valve by rotation every 12-24 hours: first in one neighbourhood, closing it, and then opening it in another one, and so on. (This system is also used in Iskaka, as we noted on 27.11.16). Running water is only available every 20 days for everyone.

This amount is acceptable because their private cisterns are now full of rainwater. A. tells us that the baladia no longer issues permits to build a new house unless they promise to dig a private water cistern. 10 years ago, there were hardly any water cisterns in their village. And, of course, they are forced to buy also bottled water or from water trucks, both very expensive.

But in the summer, they lived under an impossible Draconian system: precisely when their cisterns were empty, Mekorot supplied 15-20 litres of water @ day per person (15-20 Lpcd). Not enough water to shower, not enough for their animals, and certainly not enough for agriculture. Trees dried up and shriveled, as did the agricultural produce near their homes. 

AGRICULTURE DESTROYED. In short, A. points out, several Israeli strategies have together destroyed their agriculture: (1) the loss of part of their own farmlands due to settlers’ expropriation (2) morever, work permits seriously limit their right to work their remaining lands. All they are allowed for ploughing and working the land is 1-2 days a year; and a very insufficient 2 days in which to harvest their olives. (3) finally, the very severe shortage of water this summer dried out their fruit trees and home gardening.

SEWAGE: Some villagers use this to manure their lands. Hanna told A. of several ways other farmers make compost, and how new home machinery can dispose of sewage.

ELECTRICITY: They have enough.

SOLAR ENERGY: Answering Hanna’s question, A. says he knows that solar energy will reduce their electricity bills, they are studying the topic, before deciding to instal units for each home. The Palestinian government has already helped some villages do this.

BOARS: A. explains the proliferation of these animals, which can be dangerous. Before, they came to Wadi Qanna to eat and drink. But since the settlers built fences they can no longer reach the  water-rich Wadi, so more boars now come to their villages. The baladia asked the Palestinian Authority for weapons to solve the problem. But they were refused, because the Israeli administration won’t allow that.

SETTLERS’ HARASSMENT: Settlers from Rehelim and Eli stand around, ogling their water sources. Some years ago, some settlers entered their homes, threw stones, and wrote on their cars: “Revenge! Death!”

CLOSURES: The entrance to the village is closed every 2-3 days, morning or evening. People have to wait 3 to 4 hours to get in or out of the village. Weeks pass without any closureinfo-icon, and then there is one weekly. Several times while travelling to Shechem, A. says, he is delayed at 4 or 5 checkpoints: leaving his village, near Sawiyya, at Tapuach, and a few more. Instead of 20 minutes, it then takes him three times more— one hour to get there.

NIGHT SEARCHES: Two years ago, 50 soldiers searched his neighbour’s house, A. tells us. One night, at 2 am, 20 soldiers entered his home looking for weapons. They destroyed his home, causing damages to repair which cost him 40,000 sh. They didn’t find anything and said they were sorry, but no one offered to repay. He did not complain, knowing it would be useless.

But, A. insists, much more than the money wasted and the inconvenience, what really matters and upsets him, is the trauma all this caused his four children. Though he asked them not to, the soldiers woke them up and ordered them out of bed—-presumably to search under the beds. In the meantime, parents and children were marshalled to one room. The children are still traumatized.


We were received at the majdeles by H., a rather embittered man.

SETTLEMENTS: Shvut Rachel. Rehelim, was founded in 1994 and became legal in 2012.

CLOSURE: Six months ago, for no known reason, just to make life harder, our host says, the Army closed the path from the village to road 60. A 10-minutes’ trip to Jericho now takes 35 minutes.

EXPROPRIATION OF LANDS: In 2012, three neighbouring settlements seized a total of 2,000 dunams from Yatma, Lubban and Yasuf villages. Now, a newspaper article says that Rehelim, Ariel, and Shvut Rachel, the same 3 setlements, want to take over 2,000 dunams from the three villages’ private farm lands. We have heard since that several organisations have been visiting Yatma and are trying to raise money to prevent this unjustified appropriation of their legal lands.

“Do you have this planned new land grab in writing?” Hanna asks.

“No,” says H., “we read it in the papers. The idea,” he says bitterly, “is for them to obtain territorial continuity all the way to the Dead Sea.”