A Palestinian official in the Negev region has accused Israel of using thirst as a weapon to displace them from their homes and land. The head of the regional council for the Arab unrecognised villages in Negev, Ibrahim Al-Wakely, said, “Depriving Negev’s Arabs of water and the refusal of the Israeli occupation authorities to provide them with this necessity is part of a deliberate policy, and part of the daily suffering experienced by more than 70,000 Palestinians in the area.”
Hundreds of Palestinians from the villages held a demonstration on Sunday in front of the Israeli water company Mekorot in Beersheba. Their protest was not only against the lack of supplies but also the cost of water.
In a media statement, Mr Al-Wakely added that for every hundred requests filed by Arab citizens in the Negev to get water supplies, the Israelis approve one or two at best. He claimed that there is a racist motive behind this. “The Israelis sell water to Jewish citizens at much lower prices than they do to Palestinian citizens in the Negev.”
There is no practical reason for Palestinians to be denied water, he said. “Water is abundant, with water pipes passing through Arab villages taking water to Jewish townships and settlements.”
Palestinians in the Negev are forced to walk more than 25 miles to buy water and bring it to their homes and villages at high prices. They do this, said Al-Wakely, so that they don’t leave their land which would let the Israeli Jews take over. “In fact,” he said, “it is not just water which we are deprived of, but also electricity, roads, health clinics and schools.”
Al-Wakely threatened to take the issue to the international community and the European Union to expose Israel’s racist policies against the Arabs of the Negev, not least the demolition of their homes and seizure of their land.