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Waterless West Bank

IOL Staff

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July 1, 2008

CAIRO — The occupied West Bank is facing a grave water shortage as a result of the discriminate Israeli policies, an Israeli human rights group warned on Tuesday, July 1.

"The shortage will have serious repercussions on the economy and the health of tens of thousands of Palestinians," B'Tselem said.

"The chronic water shortage results in large part from Israel's discriminatory policy in distributing the joint water resources in the West Bank, and the limits it places on the Palestinian Authority's ability to drill new wells."

B'Tselem said Israel has complete control over the joint water resources and forbids Palestinians from drilling new water wells to meet water needs.

There is a shortage of 40-70 million cubic meters in the West Bank, according to estimates by the Palestinian Water Authority.

"The shortage will be worse this summer due to the accumulated effects of recent arid years," said B'Tselem.

Per capita consumption of water in the West Bank now stands at 66 liters a day, about two-thirds less than the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization.

In parts of the northern West Bank, water consumption is one-third the WHO minimum.

Israel pumps some 44 million cubic meters of water in the West Bank, primarily in the Jordan River Valley, which constitutes 5 million cubic meters more than amount it supplies to the Palestinian Authority.

The average water consumption per capita of Israelis is 3.5 times that of Palestinians.

Waterless

B'Tselem said 227,000 Palestinians in 220 villages and towns in the West Bank are not connected to a water network.

"[They] have to buy water from tankers, which cost three to six times more (depending on location and movement restrictions) than water supplied through a water network.

"Many poor families draw water from unsupervised wells, leading to an increase in infectious diseases in many rural areas in the summertime."

Palestinians who are connected to a water system don't enjoy a constant supply of water.

"Many residents report lengthy interruptions in supply," it said.

Last month, the West Bank town of Jenin was virtually without water after a faulty pump was sent to Israel for repairs.

"The Israel water company Mekorot reduces supply of water to Palestinian towns and villages in order to meet the increased need of the settlements," B'Tselem said.

Under international law, Israel has the legal responsibility to provide clear drinking water to the Palestinians without discrimination.


:: Article nr. 45335 sent on 02-jul-2008 03:53 ECT

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