Israel Allegedly Cut Water Supplies To West Bank

Israel's national water company has cut off the water supply of large parts of the West Bank, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians without access to clean drinking water, Palestinian authorities say.

Mekorot, which supplies water to many Palestinian towns and cities, has cut water supplies to the northern city of Jenin, which has a population of 40,000, in half, according to the Independent. The reduction of water supplies has also impacted villages in Nablus as well as the city of Salfit, according to Al Jazeera.

The water shortage comes while many Palestinians celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting for Muslims.

Palestinian Hydrology Group Executive Director Ayman Rabi said that in some areas, people had not received water in more than 40 days.

"Families are having to live on two, three, or 10 liters per capita per day," said Rabi. "People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks, or finding alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity." 

The United Nations advises that the minimum water requirement for most people is 7.5 liters per day. In the harsh Palestinian heat at this time of year, when temperatures rise above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the requirement is higher.

"Israel already allows Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources in the occupied West Bank," said Amnesty International Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories researcher Saleh Hijazi. "With unlawful Israeli settlements getting almost unlimited water supplies which enable settlers to maintain lush gardens and even fill up numerous private swimming pools."

Hijazi said that the reports of Mekorot cutting off water supplies were "alarming."

"Water is a basic need and a right," he added.

A representative for Israel's government said the claims were untrue, and that the water shortages were due to burst pipes.

"Several hours ago, COGAT's Civil Administration team have repaired a burst pipe line, which disrupted the water supply to the villages of Marda, Biddya, Jamma'in, Salfit and Tapuach," said the representative. "The water flow has been regulated and is currently up and running."

"Any effort to connect the disruptions with terror is mistaken and misleading," the representative said.

Source: Independent, Al Jazeera / Photo credit: Steve Johnson/Flickr

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