Israel has continued to further siphon off water supplies to large areas of the West Bank, and has been doing so during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time in which adequate access to food and water is especially important.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has made the claim that Israel has been “waging water war” on the Palestinians. He goes on to state the following,
“Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service, Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place.”
Mekorot co. who is the main supplier of water to Palestinian towns and cities has had allegations made against them pertaining to their manipulation of water supplies to the the city of Salfit, the municipality of Jenin, and several villages in Nablus among numerous other surrounding villages. This has deprived tens of thousands of Palestinians of adequate access to safe drinking water during Ramadan.
Saleh Afaneh, who is the head of water and wastewater management for the city of Salfit, stated that his community is only receiving only 30 to 40 percent of its usual water allowance from Israel.
“On the first day of Ramadan, the water stopped for 24 hours, with no notice,” he stated,
“Since then, it has been coming at less than half the capacity. We’ve done everything we can to try and make residents comfortable, but this is a crisis.”
Ayman Rabi, the executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group (an NGO focusing on water and sanitation issues) told Al Jazeera that some areas had not received any water for more than 40 days.
“People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity,” Rabi said,
“Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day,” he added, pointing out the fact that they have begun rationing water in some areas.
Ramzy Baroud, editor of The Palestine Chronicle, stated the following in an interview with RT on June 17th,
“Throughout its history of conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has done so much to ensure that Palestinians don’t have access to water — not only as a form of collective punishment, but also to ensure that the Palestinians do not develop their economy because it is reliant 14 – 20 percent on agriculture.”
There are an additional 180 impoverished communities within the ‘Area C’ region of the Gaza strip who do not have access to any running water.
According to estimates, about 80% of Gaza’s groundwater flows into Israeli settlements or Israel.
On top that, 90 to 95 percent of the territory’s only aquifer has been contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater. 1.6 million Gazans are dependent on neighborhood desalination facilities and their public taps. However, these small-scale projects provide water for only about 20 percent of the population. This forces many residents in the area to purchase bottled water at a premium.
The UN estimates that more than 80 percent of the population has to purchase their own drinking water. June Kunugi, a representative of the UN children’s fund Unicef, stated that families are paying as much as a third of their household income for water.