The 22nd of March marks the international water day. In the age of climate change, the depletion of clean water recourses remains a global concern. The issue of clean water resources is far more complicated when it comes to Palestinians as the Israeli occupation forces continue to steal and exploit water reserves leaving Palestinians with scraps.
The issue of water theft is deeply rooted in the Palestinian struggle. Palestinian families are forced to add barrels on top of their residential buildings to secure enough water for their daily domestic use.
Water security is a luxury Palestinian families are deprived of even though they represent the majority of the population. A Palestinian person uses 75 liters of water per capita while Israeli settlers spend over 300 liters per capita.
The flagrant unfair distribution of resources is seen as a form of water apartheid. As Palestinians are allowed to only 20% of the shared water mountain aquifer, which the Israeli occupation sells back to Palestinians as the occupation holds control to all groundwater resources. Palestinians aren’t allowed access to the Jorden river water resources.
The subtropical country of Palestine has what is called: a perception deficit, that being that the rate of water evaporation is higher than the rate of precipitation. In other words, more water is consumed than there is rain to replenish the groundwater resource.
Water shortage is a massive issue especially to the war-ridden Gaza as it already has the coastal aquifer as its sole water resource. The coastal aquifer is now polluted either with saltwater intrusions and/or swage infiltration. More than 90 percent of the water extracted from the territory’s sole aquifer has been found unsuited for human consumption. Most families use this water for cleaning, bathing, and irrigation.
The water Palestinians use for drinking is usually bought from local vendors. An estimated four-fifths of the water sold by these private vendors is contaminated. More than four out of five Gazans buy their drinking water from unregulated, private vendors. Families can spend from 20-39% of their income on water. This is a big financial burden on already destitute families.
The looming water crisis doesn’t only affect domestic use but also affects businesses that utilize water for producing their commodities. This includes agriculture, farming, and herding, which are common professions for people in the area.
The lack of water has been causing not only health issues, like kidney failure but also indirectly causing, closure of businesses, unemployment, and poverty.
The apartheid Israeli government continuously destroys swage and water infrastructures and stop the creation of new one as they restrict and control the materials they allow into the strip. The power cuts make the generation of the already existing water treatment plants impossible. In big ways, the Palestinian water issue is barbaric and deliberate.
“Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power in the OPT, has well-defined responsibilities to respect the Palestinians’ human right to water. It must not only refrain from taking actions that violate this right or undermine the Palestinian population’s opportunity to realize the right, but also protect the Palestinian population from interference by third parties in their enjoyment of the right to water, and it must take deliberate, concrete and targeted steps to ensure that this right is fulfilled and fully realized,” states amnesty international.