Access to water is a fundamental human right. The Israelis are depriving the Palestinians of that right.
In spring 2003, CESR, in collaboration with local Palestinian NGOs, including the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network (PENGON) and the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), conducted a project to document violations of Palestinians’ human right to water. From the construction of the wall of separation in the northern West Bank (separating whole towns and villages from their land and water), to the destruction of drinking water wells in Gaza, to Israel’s refusal to provide water services to unrecognized villages in the Negev, CESR found widespread and severe human rights violations. CESR presented this information in a report to the UN Committee on ESCR, which after reviewing the findings, urged Israel to “take immediate steps to ensure equitable access to and distribution of water to all populations living in the occupied territories, and in particular to ensure that all parties concerned participate fully and equally in the process of water management, extraction and distribution.”
Here are some of the findings reported in CESR’s fact sheet:
- Daily per capita water use in Israel amounts to 350 liters, while the average Palestinian only uses 70 liters per day. (The minimum basic consumption standard set by the WHO and USAID is 100 liters/person/day.)
- Over 80% of the withdrawals from the Mountain Aquifer, which lies underneath the West Bank, go to Israel or Israeli settlements.
- Furthermore, since the 1967 occupation, Israel has systematically destroyed Palestinian water infrastructure, restricted Palestinians from drilling new wells, and prevented Palestinians from making repairs to pipes, tanks and other water equipment damaged during the conflict.
- Palestinians are therefore forced to rely on more expensive trucked water (costing over US$4 per cubic meter), access to which is also blocked or interrupted because of the Israeli policy of closure and, since the second intifada, the imposition of curfew.
- In summer 2002, Israel began construction of a ‘security’ wall, more accurately refered to as a separation or apartheid wall along the length of the West Bank. While confiscating 10% of the territory of the West Bank, the wall will also divide over 30 groundwater wells from Palestinian communities. Already over 35,000 meters of pipes have been destroyed in preparation for construction of the wall.
Here is a link to the Palestine Water for Life Campaign.