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Report: Palestinians Denied Water


A Palestinian boy drinks water from a public tap in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 27, 2009. Human rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday that Israeli restrictions prevented Palestinians from receiving enough water in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.(REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions
discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel's blockade has pushed the already ailing water and sewage system to "crisis point".

Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal.

'Basic need'

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily
water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for
the Israelis.

It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day - the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

While Israeli settlers in the West Bank enjoy lush gardens and swimming
pools, Amnesty describes a series of Israeli measures it says are
discriminating against Palestinians:

  • Israel has "entirely appropriated the Palestinians' share of the Jordan river" and uses 80% of a key shared aquifer

  • West Bank Palestinians are not allowed to drill wells without Israeli permits, which are "often impossible" to obtain

  • Rainwater harvesting cisterns are "often destroyed by the Israeli army"

  • Israeli soldiers confiscated a water tanker from villagers who were
    trying to remain in land Israel had declared a "closed military area"
  • An unnamed Israeli soldier says rooftop Palestinian household water tanks are "good for target practice"

  • Much of the land cut off by the West Bank barrier is land with good access to a major aquifer

  • Israeli military operations have damaged Palestinian water
    infrastructure, including $6m worth during the Cast Lead operation in
    Gaza last winter
  • The Israeli-Egyptian blockade
    of Gaza has "exacerbated what was already a dire situation" by denying
    many building materials needed for water and sewage projects.

The report also noted that the
Palestinian water authorities have been criticised for bad management,
quoting one audit that described the sector as in "total chaos".


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"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," Amnesty's
Donatella Rovera said.

"Israel must end its discriminatory policies,
immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians'
access to water."

'Fair share'

Ms Rovera also urged Israel to "take responsibility for addressing the
problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared
water resources".

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said "the idea
that we're taking water away from someone else is simply preposterous".

He argued that Israeli fresh water use per capita had
gone down since 1967 due to efficiency and new technologies, while the
Palestinians' use had increased and more than a third of their water
was wasted.


If there were allegations of military wrongdoing, those would be investigated, he said.

He also rejected the claim that Israel was preventing Palestinians from
drilling for water, saying Israel had approved 82 such projects but the
Palestinians had only implemented 26 of them.

"They have received billions of dollars in
international aid over the last decade and a half, why have they not
invested that in their own water infrastructure>?" he asked.

The report also criticised the Oslo Accords, which the Palestinians agreed to in 1993.

It said that under them, the Palestinians gained the responsibility for
managing an "insufficient" water supply and maintaining "long
neglected" water infrastructure.

Also, the deal left the Palestinians paying Israel for
half of the domestic water used in the West Bank, despite the fact it
is extracted from the shared aquifer.

Mr Regev said Israel provides the Palestinians with more water than it was required to under the accord.


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