This blog was created by the Palestine Israel Action Group (PIAG), a subcommittee of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting. PIAG's deep concern about the 67-year old conflict has led us to action, education, and dialogue. We hope to contribute to a solution that is perceived as workable and fair by reasonable people on both sides.The blog is not meant to represent the views of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting as a whole. Relevant, civil comments will be posted.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Water is a Human Right
In Stockholm at the end of August, World Water Week focused
on the needs of impoverished communities for clean water – or any water at all.
A United Nations report in March said the world faces a 40 percent shortfall in
water supplies in the next 15 years due to urbanization, population growth and
growing demand for water for food production, energy and industry. But the root
cause of water shortage is often political. Occasionally, it is deliberately
Swimming pool in Eilat
In the West Bank, while Israelis water their lawns,
irrigate crops and swim in Olympic-sized pools, Palestinians living a few
kilometers away are sweltering and thirsty. A report from the United Nations
found that the average Israeli settler uses 300 liters of water per day. But Israeli
restrictions ensure that the average Palestinian in the occupied West Bank gets
only about 70 liters, well below the 100 liter daily amount advocated by the
World Health Organization.
Watering the stock: Palestine
Despite its location in a region thought to be
perennially dry, Israel-Palestine actually has ample natural freshwater
resources in the form of underwater aquifers and the Jordan River. Palestinians
in the West Bank and Israeli settlers live in equal proximity to these
resources, which should allow for equal consumption. But ever since its
foundation, Israel has controlled the water supply for the region, first by
military edicts, and later through Mekarot,
the Israeli national water company.
To this day, Israel requires Palestinians
to obtain permits from the military to build new water infrastructure. If they
build new wells, springs, or even rain-collecting containers without Israeli
permission, soldiers confiscate or destroy them, often without prior
Settlers vandalize Palestinian water tanks
Israeli settlers, emboldened by government indifference,
cruelly vandalize Palestinian community water storage tanks. Fifty-six water
springs near Israeli settlements have become the target of “systematic settler
Even when Palestinians attempt to go through the ‘proper’
Israeli channels, they’re met with innumerable obstacles. Israeli regulatory
organizations have created a bureaucratic nightmare for West Bank residents
attempting to acquire permits to either build new instillations or repair the
The most striking inequality lies in the division of the
Mountain Aquifer, the only underground water source that Palestinians in the
West Bank are allowed to access. Despite it being the sole water source for the
territory, Israeli regulations ensure that 80% of the rain that falls on the
West Bank flows underground to Israel, while Palestinian extraction is limited
to 20% of the aquifer’s total capacity.
Palestinian boy totes water for his family
As for Gaza, the UN estimates the crowded, blockaded
region will be uninhabitable by the year 2020 if the current water restrictions
continue. Although the West Bank is relatively well-off in comparison, the
water crisis there has resulted in severe economic hardship for hundreds of
thousands of Palestinians, a situation that is not conducive to long-term
stability in the region.
Water, a life-giving natural resource, is both a human
need and a human right. Whether in Detroit, or California, or Palestine,
deliberate policy should not deprive the most vulnerable
of a region’s ample resources.
Shakir, L. (2015, August 24). Palestine: “Dying of Thirst.” The Drought is
Deliberately Inflicted by Israel. Global Research. http://www.globalresearch.ca/think-californias-drought-is-bad-try-palestines/5471179