Access to clean drinking water might be a human right, but like many other basic privileges, Palestinians are now being deprived of it too.
Israel has reportedly cut off water supplies to large areas of West Bank in the sweltering heat, with no regards to the ongoing month of Ramadan, a period when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. In desperate need of water, tens of thousands of Palestinians are growing increasingly dependent on water tanks for survival, which comes as an additional expenditure to the largely impoverished population.
“People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity,” Ayman Rabi of the Palestinian Hydrology Group told Al Jazeera. “Families have to live on two, three or 10 liters per capita per day.”
The United Nations guidelines suggest the minimum requirement of water (per person) per day under normal conditions in 7.5 liters. However, in hotter areas like West Bank where temperatures are currently running as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit, those requirements are much higher.
“Israel already allows Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources in the occupied West Bank, with unlawful Israeli settlements getting almost unlimited water supplies, which enable settlers to maintain lush gardens and even fill up numerous private swimming pools,” Saleh Hijazi, a researcher for Amnesty International's Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories, told The Independent.
The city of Jenin, which has a population of more than 40,000, saw its water supplies cut by half by Israel's national water company Mekorot. Several other areas, including Nablus villages and the city of Salfit, also experienced water shortage for past 40 days.
Meanwhile, Israel has denied the accusations.
“As a result of the shortage of water supply in the West Bank... we have made a broad reduction of the supply to all residents in the area,” said Mekorot. “All the facilities are working and the capability to supply is less than the rate of consumption. The water authority recently approved a master plan for the water sector and accordingly we will build the systems that will meet the West Bank's required consumption.”
Instead, the authorities are blaming the crucial reduction in water supply to the Palestinian territory on faulty pipelines.
“Israeli civil administration teams spent hours repairing it. It was fixed, the water flow has been regulated since then and is currently up and running,” explained an Israeli military coordinator.
Approximately 200,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank do not have access to running water. In fact, they require permission before collecting it themselves, according to Amnesty International.