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Chile's lawyers ask to investigate contract with the national water company of Israel (Mekorot)

June 21, 2024 at 1:57 pm

Chilean Lawyers filed a complaint against the national water company of Israel (Mekorot), 2024. [Nelson Hadad Abuhadba]

As Israel’s military offensive — genocide — against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip remains ongoing after nine months, Chilean lawyers filed a complaint to the General Comptroller’s Office of the Republic for inspection of possible irregularities in the agreement signed between the Government  of Biobío region and the national water company of Israel (Mekorot) on the “Regional Water Resources Management Plan”.  It has signed a consulting contract with the Israeli company, Mekorot, to have professional advice for six months.

“This agreement, which aims to receive advice on the implementation of the “Regional Water Resources Management Plan”, lacks the transparency in the contracting process, adequate guarantees of compliance and presents unjustified clauses that limit the company’s responsibility, as well as it has problems related to the contracting laws,” the lawyers said.

According to the group of lawyers, “Mekorot has also has been denounced internationally for its participation in activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the illegal restriction of access to water in Palestine, violating WHO recommendations and operating the illegal Israeli settlements,” they added.

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So, they see “that it is essential to ask for investigation on these irregularities, as well as depend an adoption of appropriate measures to guarantee accountability and respect for human and environmental rights in Chile and Palestine.”

According to the lawyer in the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, Nelson Hadad Abuhadba, the advisory contract with the Israeli company, Mekorot, is totally irregular, and it is not governed by the Public Procurement Law or the principles of society probity of Chile. “I led the legal investigation of this case within the organisation, Lawyers for Palestine. Mekorot had been denounced a few years ago by Amnesty International and the UN for applying an apartheid policy in water management in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Abuhadba said

Abuhadba explains, “Specifically in the Gaza Strip, most of the water comes from a natural groundwater reservoir that is not drinkable due to its high salt content due to its proximity to the sea. In addition, there are catastrophic cuts to water, fuel and electricity under Israeli government’s unlawful blockade of Gaza.  This makes Palestinians in the Gaza Strip even more dependent on drinking water from Mekorot, Israel’s national water company.”

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“As a result of the Israeli aggression on 7 October, water began to be used as a weapon against the Palestinian in Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government shut off the pipes that supply Gaza with water. A Palestinian person in the Gaza Strip can barely access between 3 and 15 litres of water per day. While the normal average of the water consumption in the Gaza Strip was estimated at about 84.6 litres per person, per day. In addition, Israel has launched attacks against the critical infrastructure, including water supply systems,” he added.

As result, the lawyer, Abuhadba, and other lawyers from Chile see that it is essential to “come together to demand a thorough investigation into these irregularities, as well as the adoption of appropriate measures to guarantee accountability and respect for human and environmental rights in Chile and Palestine.”

Abuhadba told me that the national water company of Israel, (Mekorot), tried to establish ties in the Valparaíso Region, but many organisations there promoted boycott and managed to stop it.  But, after intense actions by the Israeli Cooperation Agency, the Regional Government of Biobío announced the signing of an agreement with Mekorot to carry out the “Regional Water Resources Management Plan”.

The Palestinian Community of Chile, which is believed to be the largest outside the Arab world, has mobilised against the genocide in Gaza and the violence in the West Bank at the UN International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Since 7 October, the State of Chile had already condemned and adopted different measures to effect a ceasefire in Gaza. Even President Boric has raised his voice to condemn the genocide and war crimes perpetrated by Israel. President Boric’s government has condemned the bombings carried out by the Israel Occupation forces against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which amounted to “collective punishment” of the Strip’s civilian population. “Chile strongly condemns and observes with great concern … these military operations,” said the Foreign Ministry.In March, the Chilean government of President Gabriel Boric announced that Israeli companies will not participate in the 2024 International Air and Space Fair (FIDAE). It is regarded as the main aerospace and defence fair in Latin America and brings together exhibitors from more than 40 countries.

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