Sunday, August 13, 2006

Economic Warfare: The Water and Market Squeeze

These are "teen" or figs.
It took Shareef 2.5 hours to harvest these in the hot sun, and they will sell for about $15. That's relatively good. Due to Israeli closure on Palestinian villages. For example, according to Shareef, tomatoes can't get into the markets where they are needed, so they only reach oversaturated local markets where they will sell for about one cent per pound, making production almost useless. If they could sell in the market in Nablus, they would get closer to 30 cents a pound. Israeli produce are arriving there in time to sell while they are fresh, Palestinian products sit rotting at checkpoints.

One of Jayyous' wells on the Israeli side of the separation barrier. The first big cost killing farmers is the extra transportation needed due to checkpoints and closure. The second big cost is water. All water for the farms comes from diesel-powered pumps inside these well-stations. With world oil prices, diesel is now very expensive. Shareef's bill for July was 2000NIS, more than $400 US dollars. Meanwhile, settlement wells are drilled very deep and have cheaper electric pumps, thanks to wonderful infrastructure projects available only to them.

Water meter: Water apartheid. Settlers use at least 4X as much water per capita as Palestinians. Many Palestinian villages are on rationed water, receiving it once or twice a week. These wells are rationed by the Israeli authorities. According to a license issued by the Israeli military, these farmers are only allowed to pump 123,000 square meters of water per year from this well, while they need at least 200,000 to serve all the land. Thus, some land is unused and more vulterable to seizure (under occupation law, unused land may be siezed for settlements after 3 years).

As Shareef put it "Water for them is security. If we less water, we will have less money, and more of us will emigrate."

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