Jerusalem24 – Wake Up Palestine – So goes the saying, in winter we have problems with hot water, and in the summer we have problems with water in general.
Every summer, Palestinian communities across the West Bank suffer a water crisis. Roughly 88 percent of the population has access to basic water, and 30 percent to basic sanitation. The West Bank experiences frequent system operation failures and water losses because of aging and deteriorated pipes and illegal tapping, while in Gaza, 95 percent of water from the main aquifer does not meet basic standards for human consumption.
Only 31 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank is connected to a sewerage network, and only five to ten percent of Palestinian wastewater is treated. Estimates suggest that 90,000 cubic meters of raw sewage flows from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea, or percolates into the central aquifer every day, which increases the risk of outbreaks of waterborne disease. Water has been an ongoing issue between Israel and Palestine for more than fifty years.
In 1967, Israeli officials outlawed the construction of Palestinian water infrastructure in key parts of the territories of Gaza and the West Bank without a permit from the Israeli army, which has become incredibly difficult to receive. According to Amnesty International, this ruling limited the installation of new water wells and pumps, and the reconstruction of existing operations. The ruling also denies Palestinians access to the Jordan River, fresh water springs, and any control of the collection of rain water.
Under the 1995 Interim Agreement (Oslo II), Israel retained control of all water resources in the Occupied Territories. The agreement, still in effect although originally designed as a five-year arrangement, stipulates that 80% of the water in the West Bank that is pumped from the mountain aquifer – a joint Israeli- Palestinian resource – be allocated for Israeli use, and the remaining 20% for Palestinian use. It also provides Israelis with an unlimited water supply, while restricting Palestinian supply to a predetermined amount of some 118 million cubic meters from existing drillings, along with 70 to 80 million cubic meters from new drillings. It further stipulates that Israel sell the Palestinians another 31 million cubic meters a year.
The West Bank and Gaza is going through a water crisis. From access to water to sanitation, this is becoming a serious challenge, especially when the recent United Nations report on Climate Change is considered. In this episode of Wake Up Palestine, Mohammad Hamayel speaks with the Director General of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, Abdel Rahman Tamimi.