Water crisis

Israel has exclusive control of the Palestinian water supply in the West Bank. It supplies less water to the Palestinians than the WHO recommends and less than it supplies to Israelis, doing so through inequitable distribution of joint resources, mounting obstacles to prevent the development of infrastructure, demolishing and confiscating infrastructure and barring access to local water resources. In Area C, Israel exploits its full control to prohibit water-grid hookups to dozens of communities. Since June, in order to meet settlers’ needs, the Israeli national water company has further cut back on water supply to Palestinians in the northern West Banks, as it does every summer.

Rand ‘Awwad from the village of Salem, washing the dishes without running water. Still from video
September 27

On 14 June 2016, despite the 104°F heat in the Jordan Valley, Israeli authorities seized a tractor on which Palestinians depend to carry water to their flocks and delivered demolition orders for spring water reservoirs that are vital to another Palestinian community. This conduct clearly illustrates Israel’s routine abuse of its power against Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, exacerbating the existing water shortage caused by the fact Israel does not allow them to connect to the water supply.

Shepherd ‘Abd a-Rahman Khalil with his flock last year. Photo by 'Aref Daraghmeh, B'Tselem, 28 Oct. 2015
June 22

From 12 to 14 Jan.2016, B'Tselem documented Civil Administration harassment of five Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, in continuation of efforts to force Palestinians out of Area C. In Kh. ‘Ein Karzaliyah, structures were photographed, apparently ahead of repeat demolitions; in Kh. ‘Einun, forces destroyed agricultural structures and a water reservoir; and in Yarza and Kh. a-Ras al-Ahmar, families were informed that they would again be displaced for military training.

Civil Administration bulldozer razing agriculture structure in Kh. ‘Einun. Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh, B’Tselem, 14 January 2016
January 17

Yesterday, 10 June, the military again evacuated Palestinian residents of Khirbet Humsah from their homes for 7 hours so soldiers could train on their land. The residents returned to find their farmland burnt and unexploded ammunition nearby. They are to be evacuated again on 16 June. The military also served three other communities in the area, similarly evacuated last month, with evacuation orders for 11 and 17 June. Israel must immediately stop this and other actions taken as part of the policy to expel Palestinians from the Jordan Valley.

Cultivated farmland burnt as a result of the maneuvers. Photo by 'Aref Daraghmeh, B'Tselem, 10 June 2015
June 10

On 4 June 2015, Civil Administration officials demolished five tents and several livestock pens in the Palestinian shepherding community of al-Mukasar in the northern Jordan Valley. Aid organizations provided the families who were left homeless with new tents. This latest act is part of a longstanding Israeli policy to displace thousands of Palestinians who live in dozens of small communities throughout Area C, to enable de facto annexation of this part of the West Bank to Israel.

Video documentation of the demolition, filmed by 'Aref Daraghmeh, B'Tselem, 2 June 2015
June 9

On 29 Jan. 2015, the Civil Administration dismantled water pipes recently installed for the small shepherding community of Khirbet Yarza in the Jordan Valley and confiscated the parts. Before the installation, the community relied on rainwater and private water purchase. This is one measure of several taken by Israeli authorities to displace thousands of Palestinians living in Area C. As the occupying power in the West Bank, Israel must allow residents to maintain their lifestyle, permit them to build legally, and provide them water and electricity.

Still from video: Civil Administration confiscating Yarza's water pipes, filmed by 'Aref Daraghmeh, B'Tselem
February 23

In March 2014 Hagihon water company stopped regular water supply to north-east Jerusalem neighborhoods isolated from the rest of the city by the Separation Barrier. Consequently, 60,000-80,000 Palestinians –mostly permanent residents of Israel– have no regular water. After unsuccessful requests by residents to Hagihon and the municipality, ACRI petitioned the HCJ to have the water supply restored without delay. On 2 April 2014 the Court instructed the State to respond to ACRI’s petition within 60 days, setting the deadline for the first week of June. . Meanwhile, the residents have no regular running water.

Still from video
May 27

“No child should have to be afraid to drink a glass of water lest there be none tomorrow. These are my difficulties. These are my children’s fears.” Thus B’Tselem field researcher Nasser Nawaj'ah concluded his open letter in Haaretz to Minister Naftaly Bennett. The inequity of water supplied to Israelis versus Palestinians came up for discussion in Knesset last week. Consequntly, we posted precise figures regarding water consumption in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We invite you to take a look at the situation yourself.

Village of a-Duqaiqah, South Hebron Hills. Photo by Nasser Nawaj'ah, B’Tselem, 19 August 2012
February 19

In contrast to the claims voiced yesterday by Israeli ministers and Members of Knesset, there is undeniable discrimination in water allocation with Israelis receiving much more water than Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The government of Israel is largely responsible for this discrimination due to its water policy. Firstly, minimal amounts of water are supplied to Palestinians and water from shared resources is unequally divided. Secondly, existing infrastructure with high levels of water loss is not upgraded. No infrastructure is developed for communities that are not connected to the water grid and water infrastructure projects in areas located inside the Palestinian Authority are not approved.

Water truck at Khirbet Jenbah, South Hebron Hills. Village is not hooked up to water grid. Photo by Oren Ziv, Activestills, 3 January 2013.
February 12

Gaza has been suffering a severe water crisis for years, due to contamination of its main water source – the coastal aquifer – by over-pumping and lack of proper sewage treatment. Residents buy drinking water from wastewater treatment plants as over 90% of the aquifer's water is un-potable, a number expected to reach 100% by 2016. UNEP has called on Israel, the PA, Hamas and Egypt to take immediate action on the matter. Meanwhile, Israel must allow into Gaza materials and equipment needed to restore and develop its sewage treatment infrastructure.

Elderly man fills water container at public multi-faucet sink of Khan Yunis Water Authority’s wastewater treatment plant. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 4 February 2014
February 9

60% of the West Bank is designated Area C, under exclusive Israeli control. It is home to 180,000 Palestinians and includes most West Bank land reserves. Israel, citing “state lands” or “firing zones”, largely prohibits Palestinian construction. Israel’s planning policy ignores local needs: refuses to recognize villages or draft plans; blocks development and infrastructure hook-ups; and demolishes homes. Thousands are in danger of expulsion for living in firing zones or “illegal” communities. Israel has appropriated most water sources and restricts Palestinian access to them.

Children of the Jahalin tribe. Israel plans to expel the area’s Bedouin villagers to expand the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim (background). Photo: ‘Ammar ‘Awad, Reuters, 16 June 2012
June 5

In an op-ed first published in the Jerusalem Post, Eyal Hareuveni explains why the demolition orders issued by the Civil Administration in May for most of the village of Khirbet Susiya do not serve legitimate planning interests. Rather, they reflect the discriminatory planning regime that Israel imposed in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel has complete control. This regime threatens the continued existence of dozens of Area C Palestinian villages for which Israel has thwarted the preparation of master plans, while preventing the expansion and development of other Palestinian communities in this area.

Demolition of a residential tent and a shack in Susiya. Photo: Nasser Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem, 24 Nov. 2011
August 29

Israel exploits the natural resources in the Jordan Valley more than in the rest of the West Bank and prevents Palestinians from using most of the area's land and water resources.

Bedouin community in firing zone, near Route 578 (Derech Alon). Photo: Keren Manor, Ativestills.org, 8 Feb. '11
May 12

Almost 95% of water pumped in Gaza is unfit for drinking, according to international organizations and the Gazan water authorities. Despite years of dangerous over-pumping in Gaza, Israel prohibits entry of materials needed to repair the water and wastewater-treatment systems there.

Child filling water from a container provided by OXFAM, at Jabalya refugee camp. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 18 Aug. '10.
August 23

The discriminatory division of the shared water resources infringes the Palestinians' right to water, to sanitation, and to health. Israel's policy also infringes the Palestinians' right to gain a livelihood, in that the water shortage prevents development of agriculture, one of the most important economic sectors in the West Bank.

March 24

Israel is effectively pressuring Palestinians to leave al-Hadidiyeh, a Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley, by denying building permits, repeatedly demolishing structures, and severely restricting movement. The community also reports harassment by settlers.

February 22

For years, the town of Salfit has suffered from wastewater channeled its way from Ariel. A video co-produced with "HaYarkon 70 News" portrays the problem, which exists in other places in the West Bank.

November 11

Following the harsh comments made by Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau in the Knesset in a debate regarding B'Tselem's report on wastewater from settlements, B'Tselem called on the minister to set politics aside and treat the problem at hand.

July 26

In its new report B'Tselem warns about the danger inherent in neglecting wastewater treatment in the West Bank. The report criticizes both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for their failures, which have harmed the health and future water supply of all residents of Israel and the West Bank.

June 28

The UN's World Water Day, commemorated this week, is dedicated to cross-border waters. The division of the Israeli and Palestinian shared water sources is characterized by blatant discrimination, causing a severe water shortage in the West Bank.

March 23