(The Real Agenda News) The government diverts water resources to the invasive Israeli colonies and leaves Palestinians without drinking water.
In the months of heat, water comes once every 25 days, for a period of between two and four hours.
In winter supply works, as Palestinians depend on their wells and the Israeli water company.
The dry pipe carries water home that is delivered by Mekorot, with the arrival of hot weather since May access to clean water has been restricted to the West Bank in favor of Israeli colonies.
This Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory increases its water demand in the summer as drinking water is used to irrigate crops and gardens and filling swimming pools.
“The settlements receive water flow that is enormously greater than Palestinian communities. In the summer we need much more water and the amount that can be pumped from aquifers is lower, so the supply is reduced to a minimum to the Palestinians,” said Pepe Gago, project coordinator in the West Bank Water and Sanitation Assembly of Cooperation for Peace (ACPP).
A settler “spends nearly five times more water per capita than a Palestinian,” says Gago.
Mekorot claims that it delivers the same amount of water as before, but the company told workers that it has reduced supplies to Palestinians because there is not enough water for the colonies.
“The settlements in this area have water 24 hours while us we have to take it away and buy a tanker,” complains Ahmad. He paid for water by the cubic meter. The price sits between 5 shekels or 1.17 euros and tank 15 shekels or 3.5 euros.
To meet the needs of his home in hot weather, Ahmad, who is a farmer, invests around 500 shekels, or 117.6 euros, per month in water.
“Some people spend more than 40% of their monthly income to buy water,” warns Ayman Rabi, director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group.
The cuts have been disastrous “for agriculture and small industries. There are also health risks because the water tank sometimes comes from unprotected sources,” says Rabi.
Israeli settlers in the West Bank have access to about 300 liters of water per person per day, and the rest of Israelis to some 240 liters.
West Bank Palestinians consume an average of 73 liters, well below the minimum of 100 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). In some communities, consumption does not reach 30 liters. Palestine and Israel have water, but the Palestinians suffer for their discriminatory distribution.
There are sources that can not be accessed due to Israeli impediment, such as the Jordan River. Israel occupies the West Bank since 1967 and controls its water. Therefore, access must be authorized.
There are two aquifers, the one near the coast, controlled by Israel, and the one in the mountains, whose larger area is enclosed around the borders of the West Bank.
Israelis and Palestinians agreed to the distribution of water in the Oslo II agreement in 1995. The Israelis gained control of 80% of water in the West Bank and the Palestinians 20%.
The pact remains in force despite the huge increase in population, and the result is now that “Israel has access to 87% of the aquifers and the Palestinians, only 13%,” recalls Camilla Corradin, coordinator of the Working Group EWASH Coalition, a Palestine NGO working in the water sector.
Mekorot sells water to the Palestinian National Authority. “Israel sends to the PNA more than twice the amount of water committed in Oslo,” says the spokesman for the Israeli Water Authority, Uri Schor.
If the deal was fair, Palestinians would have enough water and would not have to buy it from Israel. In Oslo the creation of a joint water committee was agreed, “but the Palestinians abandoned it because Israel had a veto power over it,” Corradin observed.
“Expanding the Mekorot water supply can prevent water shortages, but it has not been done by the rejection of the ANP to approve projects,” says Schor.
The Israelis “hardly ever accept Palestinian initiatives and infrastructure in Area C, the West Bank controlled by Israel,” says Gago. “They demolished infrastructure projects such as Al Jiftlik in Jericho, which used a water network recently built with funding from the Basque Agency for Development and Cooperation” lamented Gago.
In total, 96.4% of the water in Gaza is unfit for consumption. The region has access to water from the coast’s aquifer. It is isolated from the rest of Palestine and has no access to water resources of Israel. So the water has been pumped about four times the sustainable level.
The aquifer suffers infiltrations from the Mediterranean sea and contains chloride levels ten times higher than recommended.
It is contaminated by the use of agricultural fertilizers and sewage infiltration. Pipelines cannot be maintained well, partly because of the disastrous economic situation caused by the Israeli and Egyptian blockades.
Israel prevents the entry into Gaza of certain materials for purifying water or build pumping stations and other infrastructure because it believes they can be used to make weapons.
The three Israeli offensives on Gaza between 2008 and 2014 destroyed the power plant and damaged the strip and waste treatment, which works in part only due to power outages.
About 96.4% of aquifer water is unfit for human consumption and Gazans must buy desalinated water at a high price.
In addition to not having water that is fit to drink, Gazans have to deal with Israel’s dumping of waste water over their lands, which makes pollution and disease more likely to appear.