Israel’s use of water as a weapon in its occupation of Palestine is a sad reality which is so frequently overlooked.
Every week, the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine publishes a new succinct fact about the unjust water inequalities inflicted on the Palestinian people every day.
The facts point to, and keep in the foreground, the severity and deliberate structure of Israel’s ongoing assault. The facts are a reminder: This is what the Occupation looks like every day.
This week we've picked ten terrible facts that you probably didn't know about Israel's water war:
In the West Bank, the 650,000 people living in Israel’s illegal settlements are allotted six times more water than the 2.8 million Palestinians in the West Bank.
In 2011, Israel allotted the average settlement household in the Jordan Valley 7.5 times more water than the average Palestinian household in the same region (450 versus 60 liters per day).
Nearly 90% of aquifers in the West Bank are diverted to Israelis, leaving Palestinians with access to less than 10% of their own water, in violation of international law.
Mekorot (Israel’s state-owned water company) routinely cuts the supply of water to Palestine—by as much as 50%—during summer months to meet the consumption in Israel and its settlements.
From 2011 to 2013 the Israeli army destroyed 205 Palestinian water and sanitation structures: 92 cisterns, 46 toilets/sanitary units, 33 water tanks, 22 wells, 8 pipelines, 4 springs.
Supply and treatment of water depend on electricity. In Gaza, the electric supply at full capacity meets only 70% of demand, and Palestinians are subjected to daily power outages of 12–16 hours.
Israel's cuts in Gaza’s electricity and its blockade of construction materials necessary for the sanitation network have caused increased salination and sewage pollution of the water. As a result, 96% of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption.
Cancer rates in Gaza are rising steeply. In 2016, there were 90 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 65 in 2010. The rates are worryingly high given the unusually young population, with 60% of the patients under 25. Health workers blame the impact of three consecutive wars on Gaza, which have left poisonous elements in the water and soil, including depleted uranium. Daily use of insecticides by Israel to clear border areas is also blamed.
Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza damaged an estimated 778 underground wells. Only 162 have been fixed because Israel denies entry for the materials needed for the repairs. As a result, approximately 100 million cubic meters of water are lost annually. Winter downpours could have replenished reservoirs had they been properly functioning, but instead, 60% of rainwater seeps into the sea.
Israel regularly cuts off water supply to many Palestinian towns and villages for weeks. Palestinians are then forced to buy trucked water at five times the price of network water. Trucked water can cost 50% of a Palestinian family’s monthly expenditure. Illegal Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley spend a mere 0.9% of their expenditure on water.
And in case you can't believe your eyes, here are the original sources of this information.
Sources: B’tselem, 2014) www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/20140209_gaza_water_crisis, Human Rights Watch, “Occupation, Inc. How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights,” pdf, 2016, www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/water.html, Amnesty International, “Troubled waters – Palestinians denied fair access to water / Israel-occupied Palestinian Territories,” pdf, 2009, EWASH demolition figures provided by UN OCHA, 2013: PASSIA, “Area C: The key to the two-state solution,” 2012, (EWASH) Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group, 2015, ewash.org, https://phys.org/news/2017-03-war-scarred-gaza-pollution-health-woes.html, https://electronicintifada.net/content/water-pollution-reaches-catastrophic-levels-gaza/16616 10 May 2016, http://english.pnn.ps/2017/03/23/israeli-apartheid-and-the-case-of-water-question-and-answer/