TheWaterChannel NewsFlash: August 7, 2014
Battir: Where Israelis and Palestinians allied to save irrigation heritage
Battir is a village in Palestine known for its ancient irrigation system. The 2000-year old system combines terracing of fields with using underground springs as the source of water. It came under threat as Israel started constructing a separation wall that would run right through the system, disrupting the intricate water supply channels.
In 2007, the village of Battir sued the Isareli defence ministry for the threat the wall posed to the cultural heritage and practical utility of the irrigation system. They found an unlikely ally in the Isarel Nature and Parks Authority that retracted its approval of the wall plans. This led the Israeli High Court of Justice to stay the construction of the wall in 2013, and ask the defence ministry to amend construction plans so they did not disrupt the irrigation system any more.
The Palestinian campaign got a big shot in the arm in July 2014, when UNESCO listed Battir in its World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Any future encroachment upon the system would now be very difficult to pursue.
In this interview (watch: http://goo.gl/5delda), researcher-filmmaker Joshka Wessels (Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts, Denmark) tells the Battir story, drawing on her work with the people and organisations that won the ancient irrigation system its rightful place on the heritage list.
Israel and Hamas have taken a 72-hour breather from firing rockets, dropping bombs and counting the dead. This might be a good time to remind ourselves of the potential for good that cross-border cooperation holds for people in the Holy Land.
With Regards,TheWaterChannel Team