The Occupation of Water

As temperatures soar in the Palestinian territories, thousands of Palestinian families suffer from severe water shortages -- while Israelis living in nearby Jewish settlements enjoy abundant amounts of water.

According to official Palestinian figures, Israeli settlers in the West Bank consume 10 times more water on average than the territory’s Palestinian residents.

Currently, West Bank Palestinians consume around 70 liters of water per capita per day. In Israel, meanwhile, daily per capita water consumption stands at some 300 liters, while [Israeli] settlers in the West Bank consume as much as 800 liters per day.

According to the World Health Organization, people require a minimum daily water allotment of between 100 and 120 liters to maintain the most basic standard of living.

While the Palestinian population has doubled since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the amount of water available in the West Bank -- roughly 110 million cubic meters of water per year -- still remains at 1995 levels, according to the accords, “the Palestinians’ water quota should have reached 200 million cubic meters by the year 2000.”

Israel, “has not only failed to implement the second phase of the agreement, but reduced the amount of water supplied to the Palestinians by some 10 percent”.

The water shortage is most acute in Area C of the West Bank, which, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, covers some 60 percent of the territory.

In Area C, more than 150,000 Palestinians live in over 540 communities, 200 of which continue to suffer from a severe shortage of clean water.

Some 100,000 Palestinians in Area C live in communities that aren’t connected to the water network these communities have to buy their water from trucks because Israel refuses to allow them to link up to the water grid.

According to the Palestinian Statistical Bureau, each cubic meter of water delivered by truck costs about $0.25 -- roughly four times the price charged by the Palestinian Water Authority.

This is a major financial burden on Palestinian families, especially in light of the already-difficult economic situation.