Flood Libel And Propaganda Tours In Hebron

Flooding causes hardship.  In this day and age, there is no reason that a shop owner should lose his or her products because of winter rains that can come down suddenly and hard.  But Hebron’s Arab residents say that the evil Israeli occupation causes the floods because Israel delights in making their lives so difficult that they would up and move, leaving the place for the Jews alone.  And deliberately causing floods would certainly qualify as being evil.

Flood libel - Hebron flood
Screenshot from Youtube Video mentioned below.

Uploaded in October 2015, the description of the video from which the screenshot above was taken claims that the shop owner is:

saving her goods from a swirling flood directed deliberately through the market in Al Khalil, Old City by the occupying zionist forces who have blocked the proper direction of the water by building a wall next to the souk.

That is not exactly accurate because it was not a wall that was built but a plate metal gate that was put up to prevent the movement of people and vehicles through an ancient passageway leading out of the Casbah.  But the word “wall” certainly has a good ring to it in today’s world of security walls, aka “apartheid walls”.

The claim that the occupation causes flooding in Hebron’s casbah was raised in a professional-looking video uploaded following a downpour earlier this month (13 February).

At 27 seconds, we are sort-of shown where the offending road-closure-causing-flooding was constructed. Here it is in a screenshot, behind the man on the left:

Flood libel - occupation causes flooding in Hebron

Probably many people watching this video take the narration as the truth and nobody thinks to ask why we are not shown the actual road-block itself. But I was there. Twice. On tours of the Casbah, as the Old City is called. And tours are taken to that exact spot and shown the actual road-block. I photographed it.

Flood libel - does this metal gate cause Hebron Casbah to flood

You can see two details that are of relevance regarding the metal gate:

  1. There are wide spaces on either side of it. I dare say that these openings are wide enough to let water rush past on either side of it into the street beyond. The tour guide, knowing that everyone can see the gaps, added that the spaces are generally sealed by additional metal plates that Hebron Arab residents push away to release the flood waters. He claims that the IDF covers these spaces up again when they are discovered, ensuring that the next rains lead to flooding and hardship for Hebron’s Arabs once more. If I were to visit again in the rainless summer, I wonder if I would see the space covered with metal plates since there would be no reason to remove them then.
  2. The arrows on the left-hand photo point to drainage grates. You can find drainage grates throughout the Casbah and here, close to the gate supposedly blocking rain waters, there are three of them. These must be insufficient to handle heavy downpours and the question is why has the Hebron Municipality not ensured they are adequate because sufficient drainage capacity would prevent the rain waters from even reaching the metal gate and would therefore foil the Israeli occupation force’s evil intentions to hardship the Arabs out of the Old City of Hebron.

Can Ashkelon and the Krayot Blame the Occupation for Their Floods Too?

There is this niggling fact: Flooding occurs within some of Israel’s modern cities where infrastructure would be expected to be top notch and where no walls or metal gates have been constructed to block the flow of water. I have held my breath more than once while driving my car through huge puddles in the Krayot north of Haifa that just should not have been there unless the rains were enough to bring on a Noahide flood. One year many ground-floor homes in Kiryat Haim were inundated and property destroyed.

Here is a desperate young couple in Ashkelon in 2015:

And here is what parts of the city looked like. No translation necessary – “Oy yo yoy” should be comprehensible in every language. Don’t miss the sight at 0:18 for a real oy yo yoy experience!

And closer to home, in Haifa, Eyal Khoury took a video of water surging down HaZionut Street as he drove up from the downtown area to Hadar. This screenshot from the video shows what happens when the drainage infrastructure is insufficient to handle heavy rains.

Why the Problem Persists and What to do About it

Israel is probably lax about water drainage because there is generally not enough rain to worry about. But citizens turn to their municipal authorities for resolution of the issues (not that it always helps, mind you).

The Hebron Municipality notifies all and sundry that it is responsible for the infrastructure for handling rainfall drainage. One of their points reads: “5. To maintain and to monitor the rainwater drainage system.”

According to local propaganda, however, the Israeli occupation apartheid authorities prevent the Hebron municipality from doing the necessary infrastructure repairs.

This week a rainstorm flooded the Old City souk of Hebron. This storm would not affect the infrastructure in your communities like it did here, but because the drainage channels have been closed by the Israeli settlers who have also forbidden the Hebron Municipality from improving the existing infrastructure, a meter of thick mud and 1.5 meters of dirty water overwhelmed our shops. [emphasis added]

I showed you above that Hebron is not the only place in our region with poor drainage; I imagine that many places worldwide deal with urban floods that sometimes result because of poor infrastructure and sometimes because even adequate infrastructure can sometimes be overwhelmed by unexpectedly voluminous rainfalls.

Not all places, however, can claim that an evil occupational force is deliberately trying to make their lives miserable the way Israel is apparently doing to the Arab residents of Hebron, according to the Environmental Justice Atlas:

Therefore, and despite the efforts of local residents, shopkeepers and the municipality have been unable to open these passages or build a new drainage system. According to the Hebron Protocol signed in 1997, the Israelis control the Old City and the role of Palestinian authorities is limited, preventing the Hebron Municipality from improving the existing infrastructure.

This situation could improve significantly, if Israeli settlers opened the existing water drainage channels, or if they allowed the Hebron municipality to build an adequate drainage system and repaired the infrastructure in the Old City. [emphasis added]

Imagine my surprise, then, when a bit of online research unearthed a report by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) website pertaining to the issue:

In 2006, the Hebron municipality replaced the old sewage conduits, dating back to various periods including the Ottoman era, with new pipes. The sewage system inside the Old City had been built near the end of the Ottoman era, following the creation of the city’s first municipal council, between 1874 and 1882. In the 1950s the city was connected to the power grid. Recently, within the scope of the Old City Rehabilitation Project, the sewage system has been renewed and all houses are connected to water and electricity grids. Streets and alleys in the Old City have also been rehabilitated.

And, in fact, the HRC won the 2013 World Habitat Award for their work in the Casbah of Hebron, including work on the rain and sewage drainage system. Lo and behold, under the category “environmental impact”, we find that the rehabilitation included what Hebron propaganda spinners claim Israel will not allow:

A drainage and rainwater collection system has been designed which separates rainwater from waste water and helps to prevent flooding. The improved sanitation system has had a positive effect on health as well as the environment. [emphasis added]

This makes me wonder if these award-winning infrastructure works were executed everywhere except the one small section of the Casbah to which propaganda tours take foreigners who swallow whole the claim that Israel is an evil occupation force determined to make the lives of the Palestinian Arabs miserable. On the other hand, it is totally possible that the quality of the work was not quite up to the task.

Much to the chagrin of the propagandists, I imagine, we can see infrastructure works going on outside the walls of the Casbah. Huge drainage pipes are being installed to end the flooding problem once and for all! And these works take place at great inconvenience to the residents of the Jewish neighbourhoods. But, just like everywhere, we suffer the noise and dust so that our neighbours can enjoy a higher quality of life. Too bad that interferes with the victim narrative.

P.S.

You Palestinian Arabs (and the Leftists who support your victim narrative) seem to have quite a bit of fun blaming Israel for your woes! What WILL YOU DO when winters will go by without a flood in sight! I am waiting with bated breath to see what your imaginations will cook up for future propaganda consumption. Yalla! Put your thinking caps on!

[A special thanks goes to Yosef Hartuv for his help in putting this article together. Could not have done it without you! And thanks to Svietka Rivilis for the title.]

This was originally published on Israel Diaries.

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