The town owns a total of five water trucks. The trouble is, the trucks are only occasionally let through the nearby Israeli army checkpoint. In theory, they are allowed to pass back and forth to Nablus between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM. But soldiers often detain the trucks so long at the checkpoint that even completing one run per day can be a challenge. Sometimes, when turned around at the checkpoint, desperate truck drivers fill up from non-sanitary water sources, which has led to a serious problem with amoebic dysentery in the town (which has almost no access to medical care, again due to the curfew).
Beit Fureek had been averaging eight tankers of water per day since April, while Hanini assesses the community's basic survival need at twenty five or twenty six tankers per day. But when I visited the town on August 13, extremely strict enforcement at the checkpoint for the past couple of days meant that only one water truck had arrived in the town over the past 48 hours.
Some residents have been without water in their homes for over 40 days now. The only way this community survives is by sharing whatever limited resources they have with their neighbors. Lack of water has severely damaged the town's agricultural output. Farmers have stopped watering their crops, and most of the town's livestock has been slaughtered because there is insufficient water to keep both animals and humans alive. In short, the people of Beit Fureek are being murdered, very slowly and systematically, by the conditions of occupation.
But the killings are not always so slow. I spent the night in the home of Hassan, an extremely eloquent and erudite engineer in his late twenties. He told the story of his late uncle, Mohammed Zamout. Mohammed was seventy years old last October when he went to help in the town's annual olive harvest. This is an extremely dangerous activity, as the town's olive groves are close to an Israeli settlement (the grove has been there for generations, but the settlement lands were stolen since 1967). At the end of the day, when all the people of Beit Fureek returned to their homes, Mohammed's absence was noted by his family. They searched all night, but were unable to find his body until they returned to the olive grove the next morning. This seventy year old man had been shot, his arms were cut off below the elbows, his legs severed below the knees, one eye was pulled out of his socket, and his skull was crushed by a rock. Israeli authorities eventually arrested a settler b! y the name of Gurham for this crime, but Gurham pleaded temporary insanity and was acquitted, never serving a day of jail time.
Every person you meet here in Palestine has a story to tell, and every story leaves you unable to breathe. You want to curl into a ball and cry, or thrash on the ground and shout at the top of your lungs, but you cannot. You offer your condolences, sip your coffee, and pledge yourself to fight this injustice.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said that we should not rest until justice flows like water. But for the thirsty Palestinian people, the tanks are still detained at the closest checkpoint.