The Palestinian Prime Minister scathingly described Israel’s decision to cut off water supplies for tens of thousands of Palestinians before and during Ramadan as “inhumane and outrageous”.
The Palestinian authorities have claimed that by the first fortnight of Ramadan some areas in the occupied West Bank including the municipality of Jenin, several villages in Nablus, as well as the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages had endured more than 40 days of little to no water.
Israel’s national water company Mekorot is accused of diverting the water over the summer to meet the consumption needs of Israel’s illegal settlements, a 2013 report by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq estimated in that up to 50 percent of Palestinian water supplies are diverted to the settlements.
“Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service,” said PM Rami Hamdallah on June 16 .
He added that, “Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place.”
Israelis, including settlers, have access to 300 liters of water per day, according to EWASH, while the West Bank average is around 70 liters, below the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 100 liters per day for basic sanitation, hygiene and drinking.
The municipality of Jenin, several villages in Nablus and the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages claimed to have suffered cuts to their water supply.
Almost 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water, and require permission before collecting it themselves, according to a report by Amnesty International.
The northern city of Jenin, which has a population of more than 40,000, said its water supplies had been cut in half by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. Jenin is home to a refugee camp, established in 1953, which contains 16,000 registered refugees.
Palestinian Hydrology Group Executive Director, Ayman Rabi, said that in some areas people had not received water for more than 40 days.
He said: “People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity. “Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day.”
Amnesty International’s Saleh Hijazi said the reports were “alarming”.“Israel already allows Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources in the occupied West Bank, with unlawful Israeli settlements getting almost unlimited water supplies which enable settlers to maintain lush gardens and even fill up numerous private swimming pools.
“Water is a basic need and a right. Mekorot should restore any water supplies to Palestinians it has cut off and the Israel authorities should end their discriminatory water policies, lifting all arbitrary restrictions it currently imposes on Palestinians’ access to this vital resource.”
According to UN guidelines, 7.5 litres per person per day is the minimum requirement under normal conditions but in some areas of the Palestinian territories the minimum requirement is much higher.
Since 1967, Israel has limited the water available to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since its forces occupied the territories.
Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma’an that due to increased rates of water consumption in the summer, water flow “is regulated.”
COGAT added that a Civil Administration team repaired a burst pipe line on Thursday, which had disrupted the water supply to the villages of Marda and Biddya in Salfit, Salfit city, the Tapuach area in Salfit, as well as the village of Jammain in Nablus. “The water flow has been regulated and is currently up and running,” they added.
COGAT also claimed that water supply had in fact been increased in the evenings to meet the needs of those observing Ramadan, who fast throughout the day.