This Sunday is World Water Day, a day to remember that access to sanitation and clean drinking water is a human right that many Palestinians are denied.

In 1967, the year Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip,water resources were brought exclusively under Israeli control. Under international law and as the occupying power, Israel holds the primary responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinians.

However since 1967, Palestinians have been denied access to their rightful share of water and have been severely restricted in their ability to develop their water resources.

[1]

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In Gaza

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  • The blockade on Gaza prevents the entry of materials and energy needed for the day-to-day functioning of the water and wastewater networks, and furthermore obstructs much needed development of these systems.[1]
  • The water supplies in Gaza contain contaminants including high levels of nitrates which pose serious health risks to babies and children[2].
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  • Because of lack of treatment capacity and electricity,around 90,000 cubic meters of sewage are released into the Mediterranean Sea ona daily basis. Raw sewage is present on the streets and flooding causes furtherproblems on the ground for people in already squalid refugee camps.[3]
  • The harsh reality imposed by the blockade has beenmade worse by repeated Israeli attacks. During Operation Protective Edge last
    summer, the Israeli army intentionally targeted and destroyed wells, pipes,
    wastewater facilities, water reservoirs and the main power station.

In the West Bank

  • Palestinians have no control over water resources and
    access to water is prevented due to restrictions on movement and the
    destruction of infrastructure.
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  • Families are forced to drink highly contaminated water
    or buy clean water supplied at an extortionate price by private tankers or the
    Israeli Water Company Mekorot, which extracts water from the Mountain aquifer and
    sells it back to the Palestinians, increasing Palestinian dependency on Israeli
    water supplies.
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  • In some rural communities (such as the Bedouins living
    in the Jordan Valley) Palestinians survive on barely 20 litres per day, the
    minimum amount recommended for domestic use in emergency situations. In contrast, Israeli settlers who
    live in the West Bank – in violation of international law – have swimming
    pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms.
  • Drilling
    new wells required a permit obtainable only through a lengthy and complicated bureaucratic
    process
    .
    The
    vast majority of applications made for permission to drill new wells are
    denied. Demolitions of Palestinian wells occur almost daily under the
    pretext of building without a permit. 

In the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan

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  • In the refugee camps, the poor
    infrastructure and general condition of the camps has meant that clean water is
    rare
    and people must rely on expensive bottled water.
  • Informal refugee camps, or ‘gatherings’ often have no
    water infrastructure
    and this means families can’t access the adequate amounts
    of water needed and are susceptible to ill health, poor hygiene and poor
    sanitation.
  • The recent influx of Syrian refugees has put additional
    pressure
    on the camps’ existing water supply sources and networks, sewerage and
    drainage systems, as well as operations related to the camps’ solid waste
    management.


Other useful resources on the water situation in the occupied
Palestinian territories:

[1]
http://www.lifesource.ps/english/water-in-palestine/

[2]
World Bank Report, April 2009

[3]
http://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/20140209_gaza_water_crisis