One night while I was the on-duty physician, more than thirty patients suffering from diseases caused by polluted-water came to the hospital…The situation in the hospital is insufferable…One after the other, the patients use bathrooms that have no water. This situation invites disease… (Dr. Mahmud Bashir Rahed Dawik, al-Ahli Hospital, Hebron)
Throughout most of the summer, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians suffer from a severe shortage of running water in their homes. The water shortage does not enable them to meet minimal living conditions and critically affects their health and welfare. Dozens of Palestinians seek hospital treatment because of the water shortage and the use of polluted drinking water. The local hospitals are unable to properly treat patients, at times leading to life-threatening situations, because of the difficulty in maintaining proper hygiene due to the lack of sufficient water.
The findings of B'Tselem's research indicate that:
- The immediate and direct reason for the water shortage is Israel's discriminatory water policy, implemented through Mekorot, Israel's water authority, which drastically cuts the water allocated to Palestinian towns and villages during the summer months in order to meet the increasing consumption in Israel and the Israeli settlements.
- Other reasons for the shortage are: Unfair and discriminatory division of shared water resources.
- The poor condition of the water-system network, which causes high levels of leakage.
- Theft of water from the network by Palestinian residents, mostly farmers.
- The gap in the supply of water between the Israeli settlements and the Palestinian residents is particularly offensive, both because of their geographic proximity and the illegality of the settlements themselves.
Each year, Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories suffer a grave water shortage during the summer. In allowing this to occur, Israel violates its humanitarian undertakings under international law, which provides that an occupying power must supply the people under its control with suitable living conditions and ensure their health.