By Meredith Lee-Clark
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
JIFTLIK, Israel/West Bank – Amnesty International released a report on October 27, alleging that Israel unreasonably restricts Palestinians’ access to water in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Under the Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are supposed to maintain shared control over water resources.
The report said that Israelis, particularly those in settlements in the West Bank, use up to 80% of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, which lies underneath the West Bank. The Mountain Aquifer is the only water source for most Palestinians in the West Bank, while only one of several for Israeli settlements. It also states that Israel takes all available water from the Jordan River, which runs down the eastern edge of the West Bank. The report estimated that Israelis use approximately 400 liters of water per person per day, while Palestinians are allowed 70 liters of water per person per day.
“The core issue is control over water resources and how Israel exercises that control to restrict access water for Palestinians,” said Donatella Rovera, the researcher who authored the Amnesty report. “There isn’t a lot of water, but there is water, and it should be divided in a more equitable manner. It is a shared resource that belongs to both Israelis and Palestinians.”
In the Palestinian village of Hebron, one of the seventeen wells has dried up, as has the nearby spring, Ein Shibley.
“There is very little water,” said Hussein Aidi, a farmer from Hebron. To secure more water, Mr. Aidi and his neighbors would have to dig deeper wells, requiring permits from the Israelis.
“The Israelis control the water,” said Mr. Aidi. “Their farmers can use as much water as they like. But they won’t allow us to dig deeper wells, and any water they give us is restricted.”
Closer to Jerusalem, Bedouin water holes have gone dry, forcing a halt on regular showers, laundry, and running toilets. Meanwhile, the Israeli Carmel settlement on the hill above features green, lush gardens.
Israel’s Water Authority protested the report, saying Amnesty International’s researchers had not consulted with the Israelis before publishing it. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Israel has “extensively surpassed the obligatory quantity” of water under the Oslo Accords, while Palestinians have “significantly violated” their own commitments under the treaty.
For more information, please see:
The National – Israelis Cut Water Supply to a Trickle – 28 October 2009
Al Jazeera – Israel “Cutting Palestinian Water” – 27 October 2009
Amnesty International – Israel Rations Palestinians to Trickle of Water – 27 October 2009
Jerusalem Post – Water Authority Blasts Amnesty On Report – 27 October 2009
Ma’an News Agency – Dry Water Holes Versus Green Gardens – 27 October 2009