Water and Israel's Occupation Strategy

by Joe Stork
published in MER116

The long conflict involving Israel, the Palestinians and neighboring Arab states has revolved around the elementary bonds of people and territory. Water is perhaps the single most important material resource determining the relationship of people to land. From the beginnings of the Zionist project through the wars and occupations of the last two decades to the current negotiations between Israel, Lebanon and Syria, access to and control of water has figured as a primary strategic factor. The centrality of water to Israeli strategy can be summarized in the following points:

  • Full and efficient exploitation of all the water resources within and even beyond its boundaries has sustained Israel’s capacity to "make the desert bloom." Water production within the pre-1967 borders peaked at just over 1.3 billion cubic meters per year, between 1958 and 1960. Even then, before the 1967 conquests, several hundred million cubic meters per year were pumped into Israel from a large aquifer lying mostly under the northern and western part of the West Bank. Large increases in Israeli water usage in 1969-1970 and again in 1975-1976, bringing consumption to a rate of 1,750 million cubic meters per year, were possible only with the large-scale diversion of Jordan River waters for Israeli use.
  • Israeli officials boast that the country currently exploits 95 percent of its available water resources, the highest ratio in the world. This includes the water resources of the occupied West Bank, Golan and Gaza, and river waters originating in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
  • According to Israel’s water commissioner, Meir Ben-Meir, “Israel now uses 1.6 billion cubic meters of the 1.85 billion cubic meters rising between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.” To this must be added the amounts used by Israeli settlements outside the 1967 borders. Ben-Meir acknowledges that “one third of the water reaching Israeli kitchens and farms originates on the West Bank.” Other estimates place the figure at closer to 40 percent. Full Israeli control of West Bank water resources was one of the three main principles in the Begin government’s concept of Palestinian "autonomy" -- the other two being ownership of “government lands” and official ties between settlers and the Israeli state.
  • Israel’s water system, operating at 95 percent of potential capacity, is extremely vulnerable to disruption, whether climatic or political. The system is stretched perilously thin, with a margin of no more than 80 million cubic meters in a region where seasonal fluctuations can be twice that amount. A severe dry season in 1978-1979 confirmed the danger of salinity damage to fresh ground water supplies.
  • According to Israeli authorities, domestic consumption needs will rise between 500 and 700 million cubic meters per year over the next decade or so. Since present resources are fully exploited, and technological alternatives are too expensive to contemplate on a large scale in this time frame, the implication is that Israel will either secure its growing water needs from beyond its present borders, or will have to shift as much as one-third of the amount of water now used in the agricultural sector to domestic household and municipal consumption.

The Background

Geographically, Palestine-Israel represents a point of transition between the relatively moist climate of Lebanon and the arid conditions of the Negev and Sinai deserts. The country’s water resources are not plentiful, and 85 percent are concentrated north of Tel Aviv. Of paramount importance is the Mount Hermon basin, lying mostly in Lebanon and Syria, which provides much of the fresh headwaters of the Jordan River. The early Zionist leaders fully appreciated the importance of this fact. Chaim Weizmann wrote to Lloyd George, the British prime minister, in December 1919 that “the whole economic future of Palestine is dependent upon its water supply for irrigation and for electric power, and the water supply must mainly be derived from the slopes of Mount Hermon, from the headwaters of the Jordan and from the Litany River.”

The northern borders of Palestine were fixed by Britain and France after World War I in a manner which gave the Zionist movement potential access to, but not direct control over, much of the Jordan headwaters, including the Hasbani, Banyas and Yarmouk rivers and Lake Tiberias (Kinneret). These boundaries offered no access to the Litani. Under the British Mandate, hydrological studies were conducted and plans drawn up to exploit the major water resource -- the Jordan and its tributaries -- though not in a manner that satisfied the Zionist emphasis on the development of new agricultural lands to absorb Jewish immigrants and to stake a political claim on the territory as a whole. At the time when the state of Israel was established in 1948, water usage stood at 350 million cubic meters, just over 20 percent of estimated capacity. (It is worth noting that the British estimate of 1,500 million cubic meters of annual renewable fresh water resources proved close to the mark. Subsequent Israeli studies have determined a maximum upper limit of 1,850 million cubic meters, and the generally accepted figure in Israel is 1,650 million cubic meters.)

Once the state was established, the new authorities moved quickly to implement various plans that had been prepared. In 1944, Walter Clay Lowdermilk, an American land reclamation expert, had provided the first comprehensive outline for the exploitation of Palestine’s water resources, proposing a Jordan Valley Authority modelled after the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the US. A TVA engineer, G. B. Hayes, was contracted by the World Zionist Organization to translate Lowdermilk’s outline into a detailed and concrete plan. Hayes’ plan, published in 1946 and elaborated with detailed studies over the next two years, became the master plan for Israel’s National Water Carrier project, begun in the early 1950s and completed in 1970. This project was initially directed by another American engineer, John Cotton, who served as an adviser to the Israeli government from 1951 to 1955.

In 1949, the new Israeli government nationalized the country’s water resources and rationed their use. Water resources are administered by a Water Commission which comes under the authority of the minister of agriculture. The main components of the Water Commission are Mekorot (the Israeli Water Company) and Tahal (the Water Planning for Israel Company). Originally established in 1937 by the Jewish Agency and the Histadrut, Mekorot is presently owned by the Israeli government (33 percent) and the Jewish National Fund, as well as by its founder institutions. Both the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund are “national institutions,” that is, dedicated to the exclusive support of Jewish interests. Tahal was created in 1952 to carry out the planning and design aspects of Mekorot’s original mandate. It is controlled by the government (52 percent), the Jewish Agency (24 percent) and the Jewish National Fund (24 percent).

The first stage of Israel’s water development concentrated on tapping all available replenishable groundwater reservoirs, including those on the West Bank extending into Israel proper. The National Water Carrier project was begun to integrate all regional systems into one national system, and to transport water from the relatively plentiful north to the arid south. Already Israel was facing seawater contamination of its coastal aquifers. The original Hayes plan called for exploitation of waters outside Israeli territory: a dam on the Hasbani River in Lebanon, and diversion southward through Israel of the Jordan headwaters bordering on Syria and Jordan. Israeli efforts to construct diversion canals unilaterally in the demilitarized zone with Syria led to border incidents, UN censures and even a US threat to suspend aid to Israel, then amounting to about $50 million per year.

These political obstacles led to modifications in the Hayes plan. The diversion station of the National Water Carrier was relocated to the Israeli shore of Lake Tiberias. Simultaneously, the United States initiated negotiations around a unified scheme of sharing the Jordan headwaters. Using a technical report prepared under the auspices of the TVA, President Eisenhower’s special envoy, Eric Johnston, made several trips to the region between 1953 and 1955. The US aim was to utilize the principle of sharing the Jordan in order to 1) provide the material means of resettling the Palestinian refugees in Jordan; 2) provide Israel with the largest possible share of the Jordan waters; and 3) establish a pattern of technical cooperation between Israeli and Arab governments as a prelude to political negotiations.

The TVA plan incorporated many features of the original Hayes plan, which met strong Arab objections. The Arab governments protested that the plan provided an excessive share of the waters to Israel, with little for Syria and none for Lebanon despite the fact that these two countries were the major source of the Mount Hermon basin waters. The Israelis had their own objections to the plan, and countered with one prepared by their American adviser, Cotton, which raised Israel’s proposed share of the Jordan and suggested that Israel take some 400 million cubic meters of the Litani as well.

With the breakdown of negotiations over the US plan in 1955, both sides resorted to unilateral planning to capture and divert the major share of the Jordan headwaters. Only the Israelis, however, managed to do something: the Arab side seldom got beyond the stage of forming committees. In early 1964, when Israel finally announced that the first stage of its diversion scheme was about to go into effect, the Arab heads of state convened their first summit meeting and decided to finance and protect militarily their own scheme. The director general of this Arab project, Subhi Kahhaleh, wrote recently that the Arab plan "would have recovered between 250 and 300 million cubic meters of their water resources for use in their own essential irrigation projects rather than losing all of it to Israel," and would have raised the salinity of Lake Tiberias, making its waters less suitable for Israeli irrigation projects. Israel responded with military strikes against the Syrian construction efforts and moved ahead with its own scheme.

Conquered Water

Israel’s resounding military victory in June 1967 had the immediate effect of placing under Israeli control much of the Mount Hermon basin and the entire West Bank, whose aquifers were already supplying a substantial portion of Israel’s water supply. Israeli command of the Jordan River and its headwaters since 1967 has allowed Israel to implement without hindrance its long-standing plans to divert most of these fresh waters to irrigation in Israel proper, and secondarily to agricultural settlements in the Jordan Valley, leaving mostly saline drain waters to be discharged from Lake Tiberias into the river’s historical channel.

The West Bank, approximately 2,200 square miles in area, is dominated in its physical geography by a mountainous arch running nearly the whole length of the territory north to south and forming a watershed summit. The geological structure of the area is favorable to groundwater absorption and containment, and the mountain range constitutes a natural replenishment system for groundwater basins. The Yarkon and Crocodile basin is the largest of these, containing an estimated 400 million cubic meters of water. It is this basin, lying almost entirely under the northern West Bank, which is the source of up to 40 percent of the water consumed in Israel proper. Other basins draining westward or northward contain an estimated 155 million cubic meters, while eastern drainage basins contain an estimated 66 million cubic meters.

The West Bank population secures its water mainly from wells, cisterns and springs (the largest of the springs are fed by the eastern drainage basins and are used for irrigation in the Jericho, Fara‘ and Bardala districts in the Jordan Valley). Exploitation of water resources in the West Bank remains relatively undeveloped. Domestic consumption averages 20 cubic meters per head, for instance, compared with the average of 60 cubic meters in Israel. Within these broad figures there are considerable variations: Consumption may average 28 cubic meters in Jenin, where many houses have gardens, while in villages where water is drawn by hand from wells, consumption is about seven cubic meters per person per year. As in Israel, most water is consumed in the agricultural sector. The irrigated area of West Bank agriculture, however, is quite small -- only about 100,000 dunums, or 5 percent of the total cultivated area. The irrigation systems that do exist tend to be primitive and wasteful. As one Israeli writer put it, “Our good luck is that the agriculture in the West Bank is not developed.”

Israeli policy seems designed to ensure that this will not change. “The Arabs in Judea and Samaria will not get more water than they have today,” Moshe Dayan remarked in the course of negotiations with the US over Israeli “autonomy” proposals. Israel’s vulnerability to any interruption in its continued exploitation of West Bank aquifers dictates that virtually no deep drilling be permitted to the Palestinians living on that land. According to an Israeli Water Commission memorandum to the autonomy negotiators, “incorrect application of drilling on the West Bank could salinize the water reservoirs of the State of Israel.” Water Commissioner Ben-Meir insists that even joint administration of West Bank water under “autonomy” is not sufficient. Israel, he maintains, must retain sole control over water sources and even have a say in any Arab immigration to the West Bank.

Immediately after the 1967 conquest, the West Bank’s water resources were placed under the control of Mekorot. Since the occupation began, the authorities have permitted the drilling of only seven new wells to provide drinking water. The city of Ramallah, unable to obtain drilling permits after its wells had dried up, was forced to capitulate to Israeli demands that it be connected to the Israeli national system. Since the occupation, 12 Arab irrigation wells have run dry, while many others, especially in the Jordan Valley, are plagued by a declining water table and increased salinity. Since the occupation began, not a single Palestinian village or individual has received permission to drill a well for irrigation. Over this period, according to Israeli figures, Israeli settlements have drilled at least 17 new wells (Palestinian sources put the number at 27). These settlement wells, barely five percent of the total wells on the West Bank, drew more than 14 million cubic meters of water in 1978, about 40 percent as much as the 33 million cubic meters produced by all 314 Palestinian wells. In addition, Israeli settlements and military bases obtain large quantities of West Bank water from Palestinian wells and springs through pipes and tank trucks.

In effect, Israel is helping itself (or more precisely, its settlements) to the generous use of Arab groundwater in the eastern drainage area of the Jordan Valley, while imposing manifold restrictions on Palestinian water usage, especially from the western aquifers, on the grounds that it threatens salination of supplies to Israel proper. Irrigation wells have been metered and stiff fines imposed on Palestinians who exceed posted limits. Settlements, by contrast, are not restricted. The vast majority of West Bank villages, and even some towns, suffer habitually from water shortages in the dry summer months.

In the irrigated regions of the Jordan Valley, the occupation authorities have done their utmost to harass and intimidate Palestinian farmers. Early in the occupation, the army destroyed some 140 water pumps in the Zawr strip along the Jordan River, and closed off some 30,000 dunums of agricultural land. In 1979, the authorities bulldozed the irrigation canal in al-Jiftlik. When the American Near East Refugee Aid program offered recently to replace dirt canals with pipes in one area in order to double the efficiency of water use, permission was refused. A West Bank agronomist has compared average agricultural production from before and after the occupation and found that grain and vegetable output are down by 28 and 18 percent respectively. An increase of seven percent in fruit production has not counteracted the general decline. While it is not possible to attribute this decline solely to Israeli water policies, there can be little doubt that this has been an important factor. Moreover, it has been the main impediment to any expansion or intensification of production. In the Jordan Valley, Israel’s water plan calls for an eventual total of 36 Israeli wells which, on completion, will extract half of the available groundwater in the eastern drainage area for the 23 settlements and their several thousand inhabitants, while some 14,000 Arab residents (down from 85,000 before 1967) are threatened by ever dwindling water supplies. The most dramatic instance of the devastating effects of Israeli water theft is the village of al-‘Awja (see box below).

The other areas conquered in 1967 have suffered a similar fate. In the Golan, 93 percent of the population of 100,000 was expelled into Syria in 1967. Some 6-7,000 Druze villagers remain, concentrated in five villages in the northern section. Some 7,000 Israeli settlers were inhabiting 24 settlements there at the end of 1980. The Golan’s own water resources are not significant, and the settlers there “import” at least 80 percent of the water they use from Lake Tiberias. The costs of pumping water from Tiberias do not make cotton growing in Golan an economic proposition, but settlement there is motivated by the commanding position of the Golan over the Mount Hermon basin and the Jordan headwaters, from which Israel secures 400 million cubic meters of water for use elsewhere. This amount coincides roughly with the increase in Israeli water consumption since the mid-1960s. Israeli colonization plans for the Golan envisage a population of 50,000 by 1985, consuming 46 million cubic meters of water per year -- a 300 percent increase over the total consumption which had supported a Syrian population twice that size before 1967.

In Gaza, policies of water confiscation have had extremely serious impact, since 45 percent of the agricultural land there, mostly devoted to citriculture, is irrigated. The dense local and refugee population of Gaza already accounted for very heavy water use relative to available supplies. The Jewish settlements have imposed profligate demands over the last 15 years which have strained the water table to its absolute limits. In effect, labor-intensive cultivation of fruits and vegetables by the Arab population, favored by the combination of dune sand soil and sweet groundwater close to the surface, is being eroded and displaced by capital-intensive drip-irrigation greenhouse cultivation in the new Jewish settlements of the area.

Israel and Arab Rivers

By 1979, Israel’s water commissioner, Meir Ben-Meir, was able to boast that Israel was exploiting on average 95 percent of the annual renewable water sources “between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.” This remarkable feat of politics and engineering rested on Israel’s complete command of the Jordan and its headwaters following the 1967 conquests augmented by penetration of southern Lebanon in the Marjayoun area after 1976, and on draconian restrictions on water use by the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza. The dry season of 1978-1979 brought home to Israelis the great risk that most of the country’s ground reserves could be contaminated by salt water. The seawater that could penetrate the coastal aquifers could, in principle, be forced out of the aquifers by rebuilding freshwater pressure. In the case of contamination of the mountain aquifers by static saline water belts surrounding them, the geological character of the formations there would quickly spread the contamination throughout the entire system and would be difficult if not impossible to reverse.

The same officials who boast that the present system is using all available resources also proclaim the need to secure between 500 and 700 additional million cubic meters of annual supplies to meet growing municipal and domestic consumption demand over the next decade or so. Where is this additional water going to come from? A survey of technical solutions -- desalinization plants, sewage treatment, water-saving technologies such as drip irrigation -- suggests that no combination is financially or technically capable of meeting this need, at least in this century. One possibility, raised by these officials, is to divert this amount from agricultural use. Given the highly subsidized and uncompetitive character of some of Israeli agriculture, such a diversion would have merit on economic grounds. For Israel, though, such a decision would imply unacceptable “economic and social regression as well as injury to the policy of population dispersion [from the heavily urban coast to the insufficiently ‘Judaized’ areas of Israel and the occupied territories].”

Barring any major discovery of accessible groundwaters in the occupied West Bank, Israeli options for meeting this increased demand seem limited to the exploitation of waters lying outside of its present boundaries. In fact, these possibilities are geographically limited to three -- Egypt’s Nile River, the Yarmouk River of Syria and Jordan, which is the single largest tributary of the Jordan River, and the Litani River in southern Lebanon. The first of these, the Nile, is politically unavailable under present and foreseeable circumstances. President Sadat’s apparently offhand remark in 1979 to the effect that Nile waters could be used to irrigate the Negev had in fact been preceded by several years of technical studies by Tahal engineers. Quite apart from internal Egyptian opposition to any such scheme now, many of the other Nile states have expressed public reservations about the legality of Sadat’s proposal. The Yarmouk River, with an annual flow of 475 million cubic meters, rises in Syria and flows westward along the Jordan-Syria border, then along the Jordan-Israel border for a few kilometers before emptying into the Jordan just below Lake Tiberias. Israel has long tried to obstruct Arab schemes to capture the Yarmouk waters for their own use, and has established a claim to between 25 and 40 million cubic meters of the Yarmouk’s summer flow. In recent years, Syrian agricultural projects in the Hawran region have reduced the Yarmouk’s output by almost half. This, coupled with Israeli monopolization of the Jordan freshwaters, left the remaining Yarmouk flow as the major ingredient for any Jordanian irrigation schemes along the east bank of the Jordan River. When Jordan, in 1980, revived its US-designed Maqarin Dam project of the 1950s, a US diplomatic mission led by Philip Habib arrived in Amman to present Israel’s case that its share of the Yarmouk be increased to 180 million cubic meters, mainly for West Bank settlements. A few years earlier, Israeli officials let it be known that any US failure to support Israeli demands around the Yarmouk “could lead to a decision to implement Israeli rights in the water unilaterally in ways that will not be crippled by the Jordanian plans.... Israel maintains for itself the option to action which will force the other party to negotiate with her.” This May, in response to Jordanian drilling from an aquifer at Umm Qays on the east bank of the Jordan which Israel claimed would diminish the Yarmouk waters, Israel itself initiated underground pumping of Umm Qays aquifer from the West Bank side.

The Waters of Lebanon

It appears that the Yarmouk River is presently being apportioned in a frantically competitive way that will, in any case, not provide Israel with the incremental supplies it claims to need. This leaves Lebanon’s Litani River as the major potential source of new water for Israel in the years ahead. Israeli involvement in southern Lebanon since 1976 and the military occupation of the south since June 1982 have put Israel’s longstanding plans for the Litani on a new foundation.

Israel has so far tried to dismiss suggestions that it has any active designs on the Litani at this time, and reportedly did not raise the matter at all in the course of the recent negotiations for a withdrawal accord. Yuval Neeman, Israel’s minister of science and technology and a leader of the annexationist Tehiya Party, recently cited former Defense Minister Sharon’s view that the Litani was "only a trickle" at the point where it comes closest to Israel. “Later, if Lebanon cares to sell us some of that little water, we might be interested in buying it,” Neeman said. “Now, it’s not worth the trouble or the mention.”

Israel’s actions on the ground do not exhibit the same disinterest as Neeman’s remarks. Hydraulic engineers have long known that a tap on the Litani closest to the Israeli border would capture only a small fraction of the river’s annual flow. To be effective, diversions would have to be made upstream, beginning near the dam of Lake Qir‘awn, where the “trickle” averages 700 million cubic meters per year. The basic engineering scheme for diverting the Litani was drawn up for Israel by the American engineer, John Cotton, in 1954, and consists of a 100-kilometer chain of aqueducts, channels and tunnels which would cut across the Litani gorge into Israel at least as far north as Marjayoun. This would require physical control of the southern half of the Bekaa Valley and most of southern Lebanon below the Zahrani River. According to Kamal Khoury, chairman of Lebanon’s Litani River Authority, “One of the first acts of the Israelis when they arrived at Qir‘awn [in June 1982] was to seize all the hydrographic data on the dam and the river and take a complete set to Israel.” In Neeman’s view, “These were considered legitimate items of military intelligence.” Neeman acknowledges that seismic soundings and surveys have been carried out to assess the feasibility of a Litani diversion tunnel as proposed by John Cotton. According to David Karmeli, an engineer at Israel’s Technion who has designed many of that country’s water projects, any actions to divert water from Lebanon into Israel would be under military control and, as such, a military secret.

Whatever the Israeli intent regarding the Litani, it is quite clear that it has been exploiting Lebanese waters at least since 1978. The invasion that year gave them control of the Wazzani, a freshwater stream feeding the Jordan. Along the Hasbani, which runs from Lebanon south into Israel, the Israelis set up pumps and pipes on the Lebanese side to increase the rate of flow to Israel. According to UN officers and Lebanese water experts in southern Lebanon, the Israelis, through Maj. Saad Haddad, have ordered local farmers to stop drilling new wells. Some old wells, these sources say, have been bricked up. These measures are consistent with an Israeli interest in conserving groundwater in southern Lebanon, strengthening suspicions among Lebanese that Israel, in addition to the Hasbani surface pumps, has been pumping water underground from Lebanon for its own use for several years now.

Given the intensifying competition between Jordan and Israel for the remaining waters of the Yarmouk, and the absence of any economically or politically viable alternatives to meeting its growing water crisis, the prospects for Israeli diversion of the Litani appear to be extremely high. Israel’s water crisis derives from its policies of colonial settlement and territorial expansion. Indeed, the quest for additional water resources has been an important, though usually overlooked, factor in Israel’s conquest and continued occupation of Arab territories: the West Bank and Golan in 1967, and southern Lebanon now. An alternative resolution of Israel’s water crisis, a resolution based on political and territorial compromise that recognizes Palestinian and Arab rights to land and resources, seems further off today than ever before.

Major Sources: Hisham Awartani, Water Policy in the Occupied West Bank (Jerusalem: Arab Thought Forum, 1981) (trans. Sharif Elmusa); Joshua Brilliant, “Water in the Hills,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, May 4, 1979; Washington Post, June 8, 1983; Financial Times, November 22, 1979; Uri Davis, Antonia Maks and John Richardson, “Israel’s Water Policies,” Journal of Palestine Studies 9/2 (Winter 1980); Subhi Kahhaleh, The Water Problem in Israel and Its Repercussions on the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1981); Thomas R. Stauffer, “The Price of Peace, the Spoils of War,” American-Arab Affairs 1/1 (Summer 1982).

Al-‘Awja Fields Dry Up

Al-‘Awja is located in the Jordan Valley, ten kilometers north of Jericho. Out of 8,000 inhabitants before June 1967, only 2,000 remained in the aftermath of the war. Before 1967, al-‘Awja was one of the most important producers of bananas, citrus, and vegetables in the West Bank. In 1978-1979, the cultivated land was estimated at 9,700 dunums: 5,000 in vegetables, 1,450 in bananas, 250 in citrus, and 3,000 in grain. Because of its distance from commercial centers and from work sites in Israel, its inhabitants relied heavily on agriculture for their livelihood. Farmers obtain their water from the al-‘Awja spring and artesian wells. The spring was one of the largest in the West Bank, with an annual discharge of 5.7 million cubic meters. Al-‘Awja’s troubles began when Israeli authorities dug three wells in the vicinity of the village’s spring in order to supply water for the nearby settlements of Yitav and Gilgal. There followed a sharp decline in the discharge of the spring; with low rainfall in the following two years, the spring completely dried up in early 1970. The consequences were catastrophic: 1,300 dunums of bananas and 150 dunums of citrus, worth $2.7 million, were lost. Vegetable cultivation was reduced by 2,000 dunums; most of this had been under drip irrigation, so capital losses in pumps, pipes and irrigation pools were considerable. As a result, 1,500 villagers migrated and the majority of the 500 who stayed became wage laborers in nearby Israeli settlements. While Palestinians in al-‘Awja lacked even drinking water, Jewish settlers in Gilgal a few miles to the north swam in a modern swimming pool. Thanks to local protest and a campaign in the international press, the military government agreed to provide the village with drinking water from an “Israeli” well, while insisting that the aquifer did not contain enough water to feed both Palestinian and Israeli wells. After more pressure from international media, Israel finally licensed the drilling of two wells in al-‘Awja.

—Translated and condensed by Sharif Elmusa from Hisham Awartani, Water Policy in the Occupied West Bank (Jerusalem: Arab Thought Forum. 1981).

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