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Palestinians Face Severe Water Shortages


Palestinians Face Severe Shortage of Water Supplies
B’Tselem: Water Disruption Between Israelis, Palestinians ‘Unfair’

Thousands of Palestinians are facing severe shortage of water supplies because of Israel’s control of most of the water resources in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since their occupation of the Palestinian territory in the year 1967.

Under international law, Israel is committed to supplying drinking water to the Palestinians.

However, experts say that the supply shared between Israelis and Palestinians is a source of great controversy.

“It's highly unfair,” said Yehezkel Lein, a water expert for Israeli human rights group B’tselem, who helps solve water problems in Palestinian areas.

“We are talking about mainly the mountain aquifer and the Jordan River system. Regarding the first one Israel exploits approximately 80% of the renewal water resources, and the Palestinians the remaining 20%,” he said.

“Regarding the Jordan River system, the Palestinians do not have any access,” he added.

Lein also explained the clear linkage between the gap in water availability and the occupation.

“Israel has taken advantage of its control of the West Bank in order to appropriate more water sources and to prevent Palestinians from developing new water sources that are under the land,” he pointed out.

Another factor that is making the Palestinian water problem even worse is that many of the Palestinian residential areas are not even connected by any kind of water supplies infrastructure.

In fact, there are about 200 of such residential areas, according to statistics, which are the home of more than 200,000 Palestinians.

One such place is Beit Furik, a village in the West Bank near the northern city of Nablus.

“The real problem is at the beginning of their hot summer - they will have used up their water and they will begin to suffer,” explained Beit Furik’s Mayor, Atef Hanani.

Especially during the summer time, residents become dependent completely on water tanks, which usually do not reach their destination because of the hundreds of Israeli occupation army’s roadblocks.

“We have about 12 tanks to collect water from Nablus, but during the Intifada the Israeli authorities have imposed checkpoints on the roads,” Hanani stressed.

“These checkpoints started to forbid these tanks from reaching Nablus, so sometimes they have to wait for about five or six hours - and some days they were forbidden.”

He added that even when the tanks were allowed through sometimes, Israeli occupation soldiers would undo the valves and let the water back out.

The mother of one family in Beit Furik, Fuaz Hanani, said that they were only able to wash every two weeks because of the shortage of water.

Palestinians also say that Israeli settlers living illegally in the West Bank the Gaza Strip present another factor in the Palestinian water crisis.

About 400,000 of those settlers use 75 million m³ of water supplies in the occupied Palestinian territory while the amount of water supplies used by 3.500.000 Palestinians is limited to 246 million m³ of water supplies.

“I feel angry that Israeli settlers in [the Israeli settlement of] Itmar drink clean water while my dear family drink water from a well which sometimes has dirty or polluted water,” Hanani said.


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