Video: Forced drought hits Jordan Valley farmers as Israel steals their water

This new short film, Farming Without Water: Palestinian Agriculture in the Jordan Valley, casts light on the forced drought affecting Palestinian farmers due to chronic shortages caused by Israeli occupation and settlement.

“They treat us as if we were a thorn in their side,” says Jordan Valley farmer Ismail Sharhan of the Israeli occupiers. Sharhan talks about the major land losses farmers like himself have faced due to Israeli confiscations and “security” fences.

Ninety-one percent of the fertile Jordan Valley is now off limits to Palestinians due to settlements and closures by the Israeli military.

“Sometimes when we have no drinking water, we cannot cook or do our house work,” says farmer and householder Anwar Ismail. She says that farmers often have to shorten their growing season due to the occupation-induced water shortages.

She also speaks about the lack of water for livestock.

“It hampers our existence in this area,” she says. ”It even makes us think of leaving.”

Punished for collecting rainwater

Israel bans Palestinians from digging new wells, repairing old ones, or even setting up cisterns to collect rainwater. As a result, area farmers must buy expensive water that has to be trucked in. Those who — driven by necessity — build rainwater collection systems without virtually impossible to obtain Israeli permits, must often watch as the occupation forces demolish them.

In the video, Jordan Valley farmer Muhammad Ebsharat says his home was demolished sixteen times by Israelis attempting to force him off his land.

The seven-minute video is produced by the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene Group (EWASH) — an umbrella coordinating group composed of Palestinian and international nongovernmental organizations and United Nations bodies working in the Palestinian water sector.

The film uses interviews with Palestinian farmers, still images and maps, text quotes about Israel’s legal responsibilities as an occupying power in the West Bank and voiceover narration to demonstrate the water crisis Israel has created in the Jordan Valley.

It is one of several films supporting EWASH’s Thirsting For Justice campaign.

Though brief, the film covers quite a bit of territory, starting with Israel’s diversion of water from the Jordan River, north of the West Bank in the 1950s. From there Farming Without Water explores the expropriation of Palestinian lands after the 1967 Israeli conquest of the West Bank, the wildly disparate water use between water-intensive Israeli settlements and indigenous Palestinian agriculturalists and the oppressive restrictions placed on Palestinian water use and collection.

The film is concise, brief and poignant, making it a potentially effective educational tool to introduce the injustices of Israeli colonization to new audiences. It is also informative enough to offer new understanding to almost all viewers.

You can find more videos on EWASH Palestine’s YouTube channel.