Severe problems with water supply in West Bank and Gaza, February 2014

“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 Israel’s Minister of Economy and Commerce Naftaly Bennett. The inequity of water supplied to Israelis versus Palestinians came up for discussion in Knesset last week.

Further to the Knesset session, we posted precise figures regarding water consumption in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. All West Bank residents must deal with constant water shortages due to the discriminatory allocation of water to the West Bank in comparison to Israel. Even those people in the West Bank who are hooked up to the water grid do not have the pleasure of running water year-round; most residents place large water-storage containers on their roofs. In addition, 113,000 people are not hooked up to the water grid at all, so they are forced to spend much money on the high-priced water carried by water trucks.

The situation in the Gaza Strip has more to do with quality than with quantity. Over 90% of the water in Gaza is unfit for drinking. The residents drink purified water they purchase from public or private water treatment facilities. Wafa al-Faran, 42, a married mother of eight described the situation in Gaza where she lives: “We don't drink the water that from the pipes and don't use it for making coffee or tea or for cooking. We buy fresh water from water vendors. Sometimes, I use the fresh water to wash my daughters’ hair, and in the morning we use this water to wash our faces, because the water from the taps burns our eyes.”

The following images paint a grim picture of the of water supply problems in the West Bank and Gaza:

Children hauling water bottles near Khan Yunis Water Authority’s wastewater treatment plan. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 4 February 2014
Children hauling water bottles near Khan Yunis Water Authority’s wastewater treatment plan. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 4 February 2014
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
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
Taking the water container home. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 4 February 2014
Taking the water container home. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 4 February 2014
Khan Yunis Water Authority wastewater treatment facility. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 4 February 2014
Khan Yunis Water Authority wastewater treatment facility. Photo by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 4 February 2014
Village of a-Duqaiqah, South Hebron Hills, not hooked up to water grid; villagers purchase water from water-trucks, paying 4 times as much as the average water tariff for private use in Israel. Photo by Nasser Nawaj'ah, B’Tselem, 19 August 2012
Village of a-Duqaiqah, South Hebron Hills, not hooked up to water grid; villagers purchase water from water-trucks, paying 4 times as much as the average water tariff for private use in Israel. Photo by Nasser Nawaj'ah, B’Tselem, 19 August 2012
Boy draws water from cistern in the village of Khirbet Jenbah, South Hebron Hills, which is not hooked up to water grid. Photo by Sharon Azran, B’Tselem, 7 August 2012
Boy draws water from cistern in the village of Khirbet Jenbah, South Hebron Hills, which is not hooked up to water grid. Photo by Sharon Azran, B’Tselem, 7 August 2012
Khirbet Humsah, the Jordan Valley, not hooked up to water grid; villagers purchase water from water-trucks. Average Palestinian water consumption in this area is only about 20 liters/per person/per day – one fifth of the minimum amount recommended by the World Health Organization. Photo by ‘Atef Abu a-Rub, B’Tselem, 28 June 2012
Khirbet Humsah, the Jordan Valley, not hooked up to water grid; villagers purchase water from water-trucks. Average Palestinian water consumption in this area is only about 20 liters/per person/per day – one fifth of the minimum amount recommended by the World Health Organization. Photo by ‘Atef Abu a-Rub, B’Tselem, 28 June 2012
Water container on rooftop, 'Asira al-Qibliya. Village is hooked up to water grid, but like rest of West Bank does not have regular year-round water supply. Photo by Sharon Azran, B’Tselem, 31 January 2013
Water container on rooftop, 'Asira al-Qibliya. Village is hooked up to water grid, but like rest of West Bank does not have regular year-round water supply. Photo by Sharon Azran, B’Tselem, 31 January 2013

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Eyes Wide Open Photo Blog by B'Tselem is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You are free to use the photos in the blog. However, any public use of photos must include copyright credit to the photographer and B’Tselem.