Israeli settlers fill pools as Palestinians go thirsty
450,000 settlers use more water than 2.3 mln Palestinians
Well-watered lawns, large irrigated farms and luxury swimming pools are just part of the amenities of being a Jewish settler in Israel while being a Palestinian means restricted access to resources and struggling to meet basic water needs, a human rights group said Monday.
In its latest report on Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Amnesty International accused Tel Aviv of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and implementing discriminatory and restrictive policies.
"Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies," Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera said in a report.
Meaning Israel's 450,000 settlers use as much or more water than the entire Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.
"Swimming pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms in Israeli settlements in the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories) stand in stark contrast next to Palestinian villages whose inhabitants struggle even to meet their domestic water needs," Rovera said.
The report, “Troubled Waters: Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water,” revealed that Israel used more than 80 percent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the Palestinian territories, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 percent.
Due to water restrictions the Palestinian population has to reuse water for cooking, washing and sanitation and bathing, wash and flush toilets less frequently.
Further exacerbating the situation are restrictive policies barring Palestinians from drilling new wells or rehabilitating old ones without permits from the Israeli authorities, which are often impossible to get.
Amnesty said the "inequality" is even more pronounced in some areas of the West Bank where settlements use up to 20 times more water per capita than neighboring Palestinian communities, which survive on barely 20 liters (5.28 gallons) of water per capita a day.
Swimming pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms in Israeli settlements in the OPT stand in stark contrast next to Palestinian villages whose inhabitants struggle even to meet their domestic water needs
Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera
Water is a right
Meanwhile in the impoverished Gaza Strip, already crippled by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, Israel's 22-day assault damaged water reservoirs, wells, sewage networks and pumping stations.
The sewage system has been particularly hard-hit and Gaza's sole fresh water resource is polluted by the infiltration of raw sewage from cesspits and sewage collection ponds and by the infiltration of sea water, also contaminated by raw sewage, the report said.
The report called on Israel to "end its discriminatory policies and immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on access to water and take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources.”
“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” said Rovera.
Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford