We Need a Political Solution
LifeSource was founded out of the need for a grassroots movement to organize for Palestinian water justice.
The problem of water access in Palestine is a political problem that needs a political solution: namely, the recognition of Palestinians’ human right to water and sanitation and Palestinians’ human right to self-determination.
How We Came Together – Then & Now
In 2007, Palestinians from different regions of the West Bank, each experiencing different violations of the human right to water and sanitation, came together in an attempt to coordinate action and to amplify the effects of their work. The group originally adopted a non-hierarchical collective model and raised funds using grassroots funding mechanisms, asking foreign friends who visited Palestine to raise money for the work of the collective.
While LifeSource technically received non-profit status from the Palestinian Authority in November 2011 after years of petitioning, LifeSource was still unable to open a bank account in Palestine as of June 2012. Ongoing disagreements within the collective regarding the importance of pouring time and resources into maintaining registration with the Palestinian Authority vs. focusing on the LifeSource mission led the group eventually to disband.
Early Work in Palestine
The early work of the collective can be viewed in LifeSource’s first film We, the Women of Jayyous. Jayyous is the first community where LifeSource worked. All six of the groundwater wells on Jayyous’ land are behind the Apartheid Wall. For the women from the village who are active regularly in the weekly demonstrations, access to clean water is their number one concern. The women discovered that sewage was spilling from local cesspits and contaminating their water supply. As soon as they understood the problem, they took action to ensure the water coming from their taps would be clean! Later, after this film was shot, after consistent organizing and pressure on Israel, Jayyous got permission to connect one of their wells behind the Wall inside of the village to provide drinking water – but Israel would maintain control of the supply valve on the other side of the Wall. This partial win created tension among people in the village. Many were happy to call this the end of the campaign, fearing that if they maintained pressure on Israel they would lose everything. However, others recalled the threats of Israeli soldiers during incursions to the village threatening to cut off water and electricity if all males aged 14-45 weren’t turned over immediately to the Occupation forces. They must fight for their full rights to their land and to a clean water source within easy access. When there are conflicting approaches within a community and when the stakes are so high such that Israel may respond by demolishing wells and homes, what is the appropriate role for LifeSource?
LifeSource has worked together with communities in South Hebron, Gaza, the Jordan Valley and a number of villages along the Wall and near Ramallah to understand their water rights and to take action to achieve them.
LifeSource seeks to maintain consistent and lasting relationships with the communities where we work, and at the same time, the social-political-cultural-economic situation including repression from Israel and the Palestinian Authority is very challenging!
LifeSource’s Role in Advocacy with the Water and Sanitation Sector
LifeSource is one of the initial founding organizations of the EWASH Advocacy Task Force, which runs the Thirsting for Justice campaign.
LifeSource consistently advocates for the UN and other international organizations working in the water and sanitation sector in Palestine to respect Palestinian self-determination and prioritize recognition of Palestinians’ human right to water and sanitation above Israeli policy. Many organizations are actually complying with Israeli policy even though to do so directly violates Palestinians’ human rights to water and sanitation, preventing Palestinians from drilling new wells and building much needed water and sanitation infrastructure.
Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of Israel
In 2009 LifeSource made a strategic move to join the growing consensus within Palestinian civil society for BDS of Israel, due to the fact that the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory is responsible for many violations of Palestinians’ human rights, including violations of Palestinians’ human right to water and sanitation. Israel's impunity for increasing human rights violations demands global citizens of conscience to take action locally in their communities to put pressure on Israel and corporations profiting from the occupation to end human rights violations.
Local partners in the West Bank have received international delegations, who have brought their stories and personal experiences of systematic water shortage in Palestine to audiences around the globe.
LifeSource partners in Um Maghezi, Gaza, submitted a briefing to the UN Human Rights Council outlining Israeli violations of their human right to water and sanitation. The UN Human Rights Council found in July 2010 that, in fact, Israel is violating Palestinians’ Human Right to Water. To the best of our knowledge, the briefing submitted by local residents of Um Maghezi was the only self-organized community testimonial submitted to the council.
LifeSource has supported successful BDS campaigns against companies profiteering from human rights violations, including Eden Springs, Carmel-Agrexco, and Veolia, who all have lost important contracts and had to downsize or go under, and also against Elbit, Soda Club, and Mekorot.
LifeSource has produced six documentary films on water and sanitation in the West Bank and Gaza and a number of reports, reflecting public opinion locally and guiding public opinion internationally. These films, ‘We, the Women of Jayyous,’ ‘By Land or by Water,’ ‘Gaza is Floating,’ ‘Filling Point,’ ‘Besieged Waters,’ and ‘Jordan Valley Blues’ have all been featured in film festivals internationally and broadcast on public access television in the United States.
LifeSource is presently active organizing to mainstream Palestinian water rights within the global water rights movement. We see that all water consumers have a stake in LifeSource's success strengthening global networks and movement building for global recognition of the human right to water and Palestinian liberation.
Take action locally in solidarity with Palestinian water rights.