In an occupied land where water is a privilege, two farmers working the same land face increasingly unequal opportunities.
The West Bank has been home to Palestinian communities like Al Hadidiya for generations. Since occupying it in 1967, Israel has made it increasingly difficult for communities like Al Haddidya to access, maintain and own water systems. Water shortages have critical impacts on agriculture, livestock and households, while an abundance of water allows families and businesses to thrive in illegal settlements.
The West Bank is divided into three areas: A, B and C. Area C is under full Israeli military and civilian control. The land here is desiccated – fertile, but thirsty for irrigation to support agricultural growth. For centuries, Palestinians have sourced water through hundreds of ground and rain water wells. Under Israel’s control, however, there has been a strategic demolition of wells on Palestinian territory and Abu, for example, is prevented from renovating them. These scarce water conditions make life difficult for Abu. Without enough water, crop yields are poor, and he often only harvests enough to feed his animals. Most of all, he worries about his children’s future and their ability to endure such conditions indefinitely.
Living North of Abu and also in Area C, Eli Gilad of the Israeli community of Masua enjoys ample water access. Eli manages a vast date plantation with thousands of trees, each tree requiring a thousand litres of water per day. Israeli policy means that Eli, like other Israeli settlers, can access millions of litres of water a day, helping him produce dates on a commercial scale which are exported internationally.
Despite being physically connected to the same land, the two farmers’ experiences are detached and unequal. However, despite the odds and an uncertain future for his children, Abu is determined to keep farming and keep resisting until the last drop.