Israel ‘cuts water supply’ to West Bank during Ramadan
Aljazeera, June 16, 2016
Palestinian officials accuse Israel of cutting water supplies, but Israel points to shortages and burst water pipe.
Israel’s national water company has cut crucial water supplies to large areas of the occupied West Bank, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians without access to safe drinking water during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Palestinian officials said.Mekorot, the main supplier of water to Palestinian towns and cities, siphoned off water supplies to the municipality of Jenin, several Nablus villages and the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages.Ayman Rabi, the executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that in some areas people had not received water for more than 40 days.”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,” he said.
“Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day,” he said, adding that in some areas they had started rationing water.The city of Jenin, which has a population of more than 40,000 people, said its water supplies had been cut by half, and warned that it would hold Mekorot solely responsible for any tragedies resulting from water shortages during the hot summer months.
Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, denied cutting the water supplies, saying there was only broad reduction in water supply to the Palestinian territory.”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,” Mekorot told Al Jazeera late on Wednesday.”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,” the company added.Israel’s COGAT agency, which regulates the occupation in the West Bank, also pointed to a burst pipe, which was said to have disrupted supplies to the villages of Marda, Biddya, Jamma’in, Salfit and Tapuach.”The water flow has been regulated and is currently up and running,” COGAT told Al Jazeera.According to the UN, 7.5 litres per person per day is the minimum requirement for most people under most conditions but in some areas of Palestine – where temperatures exceed 35C – the minimum requirement is much higher.Since 1967, Israel has limited the water available to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since its forces occupied the territories.Israelis, including settlers, consume five times more water than Palestinians in the West Bank, 350 litres per person per day in Israel compared with 60 litres per Palestinian per day in the West Bank.