On World Water Day 2022, we look at how the control of water in Palestine causes untold difficulties for ordinary people. From farmers to families, every Palestinian consumes less than the recommended daily amount and many face having their village wells and water tanks destroyed or seized.
The World Health Organisation recommends 100 litres of clean water per day, per person. In some areas of Palestine, people can access only 26 litres per day with the shortfall having to be bought from a private Israeli company, Mekorot, at a premium price. Israel, the occupying power, controls 85% of Palestinian water resources.
Palestinians rely heavily on groundwater, which makes up 80% of water use in Palestine according to the UNESCO 2022 water report. Groundwater reservoirs are used by villages and farmers to stay alive and nourish crops and livestock. Unfortunately, the areas of Palestine which are rich in natural resources are among those targeted for takeover by illegal Israeli settlers.
The Palestinian Central Statistics Bureau have said that as well as the exploitation of groundwater, Palestinians have been prevented by Israel from taking water from the Jordan river since the occupation began in 1967. As well as access issues, water infrastructure is frequently targetted and destroyed by occupation forces, as documented here by rights NGO B’Tselem:
The occupation of Palestine has been referred to as apartheid. Amnesty International outlined the inequalities faced by Palestinians when trying to access potable water and particularly mentioned Gaza, where salination levels make 98% of water undrinkable:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his speech marking World Water Day today said that Palestinians could no longer tolerate the looting of their natural resources.
With water becoming an increasingly scarce and precious commodity, the Palestinian’s right to self-determination and to access their own lands and resources must be upheld and protected by the international community.