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Amnesty International: Israel Flagrantly Restricting Palestinian Access to Water

October 29, 2009

Amnesty International has just released a report claiming that Israel systematically denies Palestinians basic access to water.  It details the well-known inequalities in water-access between Israeli and Palestinian populations in the present day:  the former is said to consume 300 liters of water a day on average, while the latter gets on average only 70–a far cry from the 100 liters a day the World Health Organization sees as a minimum.  Insisting that the deprivation of Palestinians’ access to water is systemic–that is, largely due to discrimination resulting from existing power relations–rather than geographical or climatic, the report further asserts that Israeli populations consume 80 percent of the water available from the Mountain Aquifer located in the West Bank, leaving only 20 percent for the Palestinian population.  Such inequalities are dramatically encapsulated in the claim Amnesty makes that the 450,000 Israeli settlers who reside in the West Bank and East Jerusalem consume as much if not more total water than the 2.3 million West Bank-residing Palestinians.

As regards the situation in Gaza, the Amnesty report finds 90 to 95 percent of available water to be contaminated and therefore unfit for human consumption.  It condemns the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, claiming this ongoing policy to have resulted in the severe inhibition of the development of water and sanitation infrastructure as well as the repair of such since Operation Cast Lead.  It further condemns Israeli policy that prevents the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer of the West Bank to the population of Gaza.

The report, in sum, finds Israel to be fundamentally violating Palestinians’ basic right to water.

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