The water supply in the occupied Palestinian territories is becoming uncertain and unsafe due to the punitive measures adopted by the Israeli occupation authorities, claims a report prepared by Fadel Ka’osh, the ex-chairman of the Palestinian water authority.
The inhumane Israeli policies regarding water have resulted in a huge shortage of water needed by Palestinians for normal daily life, the report says. According to Mr Ka’osh, each Palestinian receives only 62 litres of clean water a day. “This is only 50 per cent of one person’s daily requirement according to World Health Organisation (WHO) criteria.”
The Israelis control most of the natural water sources in Palestine. They only give licences for Palestinians to dig superficial wells that do not reach the truly fresh underground supplies. Many West Bank districts are deprived of access to the water network and depend on water distribution tanks pulled by tractors. “These are unsafe since they are not subject to regular medical tests and other hygiene problems,” the report states. “The price of water from such tanks is another issue, not only in the villages but also in the cities.”
More than 50 per cent of the water consumed by Palestinians is bought from the Israelis. If they stop the supply, says the report, the amount available for every Palestinian will reduce to 32 litres a day. “This means that Palestinians are living under a real threat as long as they do not have sovereignty over their own water,” added Ka’osh.
The report also suggests that climate change over the past 15 years has reduced natural water supplies in the occupied West Bank by more than 65 per cent. “This puts extra pressure on the natural water resources, with the supply decreasing while the demand is increasing.” The report gave the examples of Al Farea, Al Oja and Fasayel water springs where demand exceeds supply.
In the Gaza Strip the situation is deteriorating faster than it is in the West Bank due to the ongoing Israel siege. “The water crisis in the Gaza Strip has resulted in a deteriorating health and environmental situation,” the report says. “Most underground water resources have been polluted by fertilisers and are unsafe to use.”
The report explained that the people of Gaza are still using the underground water aquifers for their daily needs, but they depend on filtered water sold by commercial companies for drinking.