A conference in Jericho and the Jordan Valley has been told that the water situation in Palestine is "catastrophic". Delegates at the "Water is a Human Right" conference include Palestinian and international organisations, individuals and activists. They heard the head of the Palestinian Water Authority accuse the Israelis of destroying wells and water conduits which have supplied Palestinians since the Roman era, citing in particular three wells in Nasseriya and Jiftlik at the Jordan Valley. "This is a violation of all conventions to preserve our heritage," said Shaddad Atilli. "Where is UNESCO?". He called on European activists to let the public across the EU know about this "tragic situation".
The conference has been organised by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee in collaboration with the Italian NGO Caravan Water.
The governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley said that the region suffers from a shortage of artesian wells because the Israeli occupation authorities ban the restoration and digging of Palestinian wells used to irrigate crops. At one time, said the governor, the region had 170 artesian wells, but only 50 remain. "Water is a right for all of the people in the region," he said.
Speaking on behalf of Caravan Water, a spokesman said that international reports illustrate that Israel uses 80% of water sources in the occupied West Bank, leaving the Palestinians just 20%. "On average," he added, "a Palestinian consumes 70 litres of water while an Israeli uses 300 litres." The 450,000 illegal settlers use more water than the 2.3 million indigenous Palestinians. "The situation," he claimed, "is even worse in Gaza."