WORLD RIVERS DAY- BY ISAAC HILLES FROM CAG PALESTINE

Isaac H. Hilles, a 24-year Palestinian social activist. A Business Administration Graduate, community service volunteer, and human rights advocate. A leader of social change with a powerful vision: “ Working for society is a collective responsibility for a bright future.”

Since his first years as a university student, he has been diligent to bring his vision to reality by inspiring others to work for a democratic, fair and peaceful society.

After years of working in community service, leading initiatives and national campaigns, he has become a focal point in several civil society institutions and NGOs. Driven by his vision, he is concerned about the environment and climate change, particularly in his homeland; Palestine. He has been working hard to find connections with the environmental institutions to take part in climate change crisis and sustainable development. Currently, he is the Ambassador of Palestine in Climate Action Group. He is committed to be a supportive, outstanding and faithful member of the team. He eagerly dreams to achieve his vision in a wider range.”

Article by Amb. Isaac Hilles

“Rivers are the arteries of our planet; they are lifelines in the truest sense,” said Mark Angelo, the founder of World Rivers Day. On the last Sunday of September each year, more than 70 countries celebrate this international occasion, which falls on 22nd September this year, to underscore how great waterways worldwide are important, particularly as they are currently facing enormous hazards.

This special day was proposed by Mark Angelo, renowned Canadian river conservationists, in response to a ten-year story proclaimed by the United Nation to enhance world cooperation towards implementing the water-related projects, programs, and goals during 2005- 2015. The International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ aimed at fulfilling commitments related to the Millennium Development Goals. Mark Angelo, also the founder of BC Rivers Day in Canada in 1980, was awarded approval for his event, which was consistent with the goals of the Water for Life Decade.

This distinctive event gradually grew after its first celebration in 2005 to be celebrated by several millions of people with a variety of special vibes now. The intrinsic importance of World Rivers Day is to highlight how valuable waterways are for people and the environment and to encourage people to take care, preserve and defend these splendid blessings. Incremental changes during a prolonged period can create a better future for rivers and protect them as long as possible. To exemplify, Planting grass or trees along stream banks as buffers are adequate for it helps filter soil from pollutants and sediment, provide shade to keep water fresh, prevent erosion, and attract wildlife species that contribute to promoting water quality.

It may also include taking part in fish enhancement programs in cooperation with environmental organizations to help the wildlife habitats be healthier. Participating in campaigns to increase awareness of related issues is also useful. Moreover, the celebration will be far more spectacular if it involves different groups from the community including local schools, local businesses, government, environmental groups, and interest groups such as recycling societies. All the previously mentioned evokes a serious question: why are rivers of huge importance?. Rivers are incredibly important as a main source of water that not only provide fresh water and nutrients for human and nature to survive but also act as a home to a variety of endangered wildlife; they are a vital ecosystem for many species.

Besides, protecting rivers must include dealing with pollution consequences. Agriculture, factories, and human beings all contribute to river pollution. Fertilizers and pesticides used by farmers to enhance their crops stimulate the growth of algae, which eventually reaches rivers by rain and ravages water plants.
Factories use the water of rivers to run or cool machines and replace it with polluted water filled with chemicals, which results in killing fish and other animals and causing serious health issues such as stomach disorders and skin infections.

On the other hand, it is indispensable in this regard to consider the case of River Jordan, Nahr Al Shariat, in Palestine. It has the lowest elevation of any river worldwide and flows north to south through the Sea of Galilee in the Middle East. The Jordan River is a critical issue as it indicates the lifelong Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel sought to control the Jordan River to support its settlement purposes in the Arab region by raising agricultural settlements to attract the Zionists and empower them in the land. Israel currently consumes about 2,700 million cubic meters annually, while the amount of renewable water in it reaches about 1700 million cubic meters. As it suffers from a water deficit, it illegally steals water from its neighbor countries and drains its underground wells. After the unfair Balfour Declaration, which was issued in 1917, the Israeli borders, which include Jordan, Baniyas, and Yarmouk rivers. In 1955, Ben-Gurion, the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel, declared that “the Jews are fighting a water bottle with the Arabs, and the outcome of this battle will determine the fate of Israel.” And “If we do not win this battle, we will not remain in Palestine.” Concerning water distribution, Israel refuses to fairly distribute the water with the countries of Jordan Basin, namely Palestine (no share at all), Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, and adopts unfair policies instead. Moreover, Israel’s exploitation of Palestinian water increased; the Palestinian consume 10-15% less than what Jews consume, even though the number of Palestinians exceeds the number of Jews.

In other words, an Israeli settler consumes 9 times greater than what a Palestinian consumes.
According to the Israeli organization B’Tselem, “200 villages in the West Bank, inhabited by about 218,000 Palestinians, who suffer from a serious shortage of water.”
This conflict requires intensive efforts and cooperation to fairly restore the state’s rights concerning the water of the Jordan River.