Members can sign in here.

About the Author

Hanna Clarys
Student (Antwerp, Belgium)

Current Study: Political Sciences at Antwerp University. Likes: reading, writing and drawing. Activities: discovering the world step by step. Dream: becoming a war journalist somewhere in the distant future...



Published 11th April 2010 - 13 comments - 3579 views -

This Friday night I was watching the movie ‘Il Postino’, which tells the story about a beautiful friendship between the famous poet Pablo Neruda and his postman on a small Italian island in the ‘50s. Drinking water was supplied there by a tanker only once a year, leaving the inhabitants with water shortages during the dry season.  This situation reminded me of Palestine, where others are also controlling the amount of water available to its people.


Water resources in Palestine

Palestinians have three main water sources, namely the river Jordan, the mountain aquifer (which is water underneath the West Bank) and the coastal aquifer (water underneath Gaza and the coast). These water sources are shared with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel.


Water and occupation

When Israel occupied the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza strip in 1967 the common water sources were controlled by the Israeli government. Since then, Palestinian people don’t have access to the amount of water necessary to develop and survive in a human way.


Every Palestinian inhabitant receives only 95 litres water per day to cook, to wash, to irrigate their fields, for schools, hospitals and factories. A Jewish settler in Palestine receives 10 times as much.


The Israeli army destroys Palestinian water resources and often closes down the waterworks in cities and villages during summer. Sometimes they also penalize the Palestinian people this way after a bombing or attack by Hamas. Israel claims they need the Palestinian water to make the desert bloom; fresh green gardens and fields for the Jewish settlements in Occupied Territory. Israeli oranges, tomato’s and grapefruits are getting more water than the children of Hebron, Gaza or Bethlehem.


Palestinian farmers are hindered to sell their products in the cities by road blocks and checkpoints, which is advantageous for Israel: the less Palestinian farmers, the more water for themselves.


Dirty Water

In Gaza, 80% of the available water is polluted and not suitable to drink. But it is the only water its inhabitants are allowed to use, which leaves them no choice. The expected consequences are miscarriages, kidney diseases, intoxication, etc.


Water and the Wall

Israel is building a barrier through Palestinian territory. But even more strikingly: this wall-fence-roadblock-thing is annexing the most fertile lands and the best water wells, which means they are now out of Palestinian reach.


The Wall makes the Palestinians lose a quarter of their water, a third of their citrus harvest, a third of their olive oil production, and half of their greenhouse vegetables.


 Enough water

If the available water in the regions would be divided in a just way, there is enough for all Israelis and Palestinians. Unfortunately water is still used as a way to make the lives of  3.5 million people even harder than it already was.


Next time: more about the Wall…  





- by Pablo Neruda


Everything on the earth bristled, the bramble
pricked and the green thread
nibbled away, the petal fell, falling
until the only flower was the falling itself.
Water is another matter,
has no direction but its own bright grace,
runs through all imaginable colors,
takes limpid lessons
from stone,
and in those functionings plays out
the unrealized ambitions of the foam



Category: Human Rights | Tags:


  • Hemant Jain on 11th April 2010:

    That’s a really interesting post Hanna. And thanks for the lovely Neruda poem.
    The water based conflicts are the biggest danger that faces us. I’ll put up a post with a poster I designed on the same. Coming up!

  • Hemant Jain on 11th April 2010:

    Here we go:

  • Sarah on 11th April 2010:

    Hi Hanna. Where did you get this information from?

  • Benno Hansen on 11th April 2010:

    Hi Hanna and Hemant… I put together a post at my Ecowar blog from your two posts. Hope you like it and please just let me know if you want me to change anything.

    Water is something I have blogged about quite a bit at Ecowar. A lot of the posts about Palestine and Israel are about water - so many I’m restraining myself from posting much more. Knock yourself out… there are wild quotes, videos and the whole thing. Most of the links I collected/addressed at Ecowar I also got in a list at Diigo along with a good deal more.

    If I should recommend only one article it would have to be Nations don’t go to war over water wink

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 11th April 2010:

    Hanna, your post has reminded me about another frozen conflit which was based on access to water resources in this region. I mean the Syrian-Izael conflit in The Golan Heights. The area is a key source of water for an arid region. The area provides a third of Israel’s water supply… and it was taken by Izreal from Syrian during Six-Day War in 1967 as well.

  • Hanna Clarys on 11th April 2010:

    Hi everyone, thank for your comments and all the links to interesting articles!

    First Sarah’s question: I got my information mostly from Amnesty International, research concerning this topic from a university in Brussels, and some of my lectures at college. I should have mentioned it somewhere in my blog, sorry…

    To Benno and Hemant: your Ecowar blog and the poster are really inspiring. It’s really amazing what you guys are doing!

    And thank you, Iwona, for mentioning the Syria-Israel conflict. The relations between these two countries have always been controversial. War and water are connected, as you can also read on Hemant’s poster or in Benno’s blog.

  • Hanna Clarys on 11th April 2010:

    Oh and you should look for other poems of Neruda; they are all so beautiful!

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 11th April 2010:

    hi Hanna. Thanks for this post. Sadly, water and other resources are always used to control territories and people.

  • Aija Vanaga on 12th April 2010:

    Water is something it is impossible to live without. And sad that it is controlled this way to destroy people.

  • Lara Smallman on 13th April 2010:

    Hi all, I’ve spent today looking into the claims made in this post, found some very interesting and important facts, and have since posted this:

  • Hanna Clarys on 13th April 2010:

    Hi Lara, I am certainly going to read your post. Thanks for reacting. Impartiality does matter, and I admit maybe my blog hasn’t taken account of that enough. I’ll react on yours!

  • Andrea Arzaba on 13th April 2010:

    very interesting post! I did not know that water was so polluted in Gaza! Love the poem smile

  • Mark on 17th May 2010:

    Fantastic of your tips should include your sidekick coming in with a bucketful of water and throwing it completely terminated you. That exercises.
    Wall Quotes &

Post your comment

  • Remember my personal information

    Notify me of follow-up comments?

    --- Let's see if you are human ---

    A human creature that practices the art of "blogging" is called a... Add a questionmark to your answer. (8 character(s) required)