Saturday, August 7, 2010
Jerusalem – A statement was rendered by the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) regarding Israel’s Jerusalem national water company’s (Jehon) piracy practices towards Palestinian families and churches situated in the Old City. The objective of the company’s preconceived policy is to eradicate the Old City’s Palestinian population through discriminatory and burdensome financial claims.
JLAC confirmed that all verbal consensuses made by Jehon to Palestinian households residing in the Wadi Al Joz Valley, are merely revealed deceptions. On countless occasions, JLAC corresponded with the water provider, demanding that they increase the hourly water rate and improve the neighborhood’s water pressure.
Residents of the neighborhood continue to suffer from debilitated and lack of water access, despite their one-year long unabated demands to Jehon to install water meters within the neighborhood. As of yet, no responses have been received from them, despite the hot summer season and the Holy Month of Ramadan. Jehon have broken their promises to serve Jerusalem’s Palestinian population.
In one case, the residents submitted an official letter (through JLAC), to the Israeli national water company detailing several issues they face such as water interruptions, weak water pressure, damaged water networks throughout the neighborhood, and insufficient installed water meters per household.
The Wadi Al Joz neighborhood is divided into three areas inhabited by thousands of Jerusalemite-Palestinians, with only two main pipelines (in debilitated conditions), resulting in insufficient sources of water dispersed throughout the area. Conversely, Jehon provided the Israeli Ministry of Interior offices located on the northern vicinity of the neighborhood with 4 additional water pipes, neglecting the water deficits the residents are experiencing.
Initially, Jehon refused to extend water networks to households unlicensed to obtain hourly water rates. JLAC corresponded with Jehon, claiming it fully liable to this deficiency by neglecting the residents’ demands and requests; Jehon responded to JLAC, and visited the area in June of 2010. During its visit, Jehon witnessed the problematic issues the households are confronting, and with such repaired the water networks. One of JLAC’s attorneys, Mohammad Abu Snineh, stated that Jehon’s argument to prohibit extending hourly water rates to households within the Wadi Al Joz neighborhood due to the lack of proper licenses was a feeble excuse, unconstitutional to the Basic Law, and paradoxical to the Jerusalem Municipality’s approval of issued-building permits. After JLAC’s intervention, Jehon has since installed water meters throughout the various Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem such as the Jabal Al Mukabber and the Al Tawr.
Abu Snineh also confirmed, preceding his visit to the neighborhood, that there are approximately 50 houses inhabiting 50 families, all linked to the same water meter, (which is an abnormal case) that serves to increase water consumption and pressure capacities. Jehon bases its water-meter system on the number of family members per household to the relative amount of water consumption. A household exceeding that amount will be rendered a penalty fine. In such a case (as mentioned above), 50 houses, inhabiting 50 family members, utilizing the same water meter, are obliged to pay NIS 250,000 (approximately USD $66,000) in water bills.
Ultimately, JLAC’s statement reveals that Jehon’s commitment to resolve the water issue of the neighborhood, has not been delivered in a reforming manner. It was only intentioned to avoid the problems residents encounter. This has lead to two possible solutions: First, to replace two renewed central water lines (which is considered an insufficient resolution to several families), and second, to extend water pipe percolators from the 4 additional lines allocated at the Israeli Ministry of Interior offices. Such solutions can be time-consuming as it demands numerous modifications, and Jehon’s budgetary approval.
JLAC’s statement also discussed (in its conclusion), on the national water company’s systemic theft from the Palestinians, and especially during its demands for all Jerusalem-based churches to remit water invoices dating back to 1967. Even predating the Israeli occupation, the churches have been negated from all rights and norms. Nevertheless, the churches have gained their privileges in the Old City during the Ottoman regime, British Mandate, the Jordanian Civil Administration’s autonomy of Jerusalem, and the present occupation, threatening to halt water distributions, and reflecting the occupation’s true self. JLAC considers these procedures and regulations part of a systemic piracy against Jerusalemite-Palestinians, attempting to displace and uproot them from their Holy City.