Doha is dry

Posted on 09 August 2010

Today, the water situation has become the worst I’ve ever experienced. And it’s important to remember that our lack of water is not because there is a drought here, there is water across the West Bank, enough for everyone. It’s a man-made problem, caused by Israel and its domination over resources and exacerbated locally. And it is inflaming tensions in the community.

Our water supply was reconnected yesterday afternoon, and we were all so happy. Really, you cannot imagine how excited everyone was. But it was to be short lived. Just a few hours later, it was cut again. There had not been anywhere near enough time to fill all our tanks. When we got home, there was no water. All our tanks are now completely empty. We’ve no water to wash ourselves or our clothes. We cannot flush the lavatory. We’ve no water to cook with or to drink. We have to buy bottled water, much of which is Israeli. At least we can afford to. Occupation is a very profitable business, for some.

On Saturday night, as we came home from a night out in Beit Sahour, our road was almost blocked by rubbish and small boulders strewn across the road. One rock got stuck under the car so I got out and managed to remove it. I then cleared the road as best as I could. It turned out the local kids had done this as a protest about our water being cut off.

Last night the same thing happened, and it became more aggressive. Our road was almost blocked in two places: the large rubbish containers had been wheeled into the road and further up, more rocks and boulders partially blocked the way. The kids had also got rubber tires which they intended to set fire to. As we managed to pass, a massive argument between the kids, car drivers and residents had broken out. It looked like it was getting a bit nasty.

This morning we found out that the police had been called. As usual, there was lots of overreaction and all the fathers of the kids concerned have been arrested. At least the children in the area wanted to vent their anger and frustration at the situation, but all they did was create more tension in the neighbourhood. Their protest wasn’t directed at those who are responsible for the problems.

The adults, on the other hand, sit and moan about the situation but do nothing. On Friday we’d talked about organising a demonstration outside the municipality. I suggested we get all the kids to come and take containers into the offices and demand to fill them with water. But no one else seemed interested.

It seems that the changes in society have broken down the spirit of community and the sense of solidarity people once shared. If this had happened twenty or even ten years ago, everyone would have been out on the streets in force, demanding their right to access water. Now, people sit at home, watch their flat screens TVs, think about what car to buy or where to go on holiday. (How they get the money for this is another story.) And moan about a situation they seem unwilling to even try to challenge.

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