Water shortages frustrate Palestinians in West Bank
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Sunday, July 25, 2010 10:03PM EDT
In the heat of Israel's typically hot and dry summer season, water is an ever-present source of tension, and this year is no different as residents deal with shortages they say their neighbours do not have.
The shortage is so severe in Hebron right now, the West Bank city is rationing water according to location.
The water rationed to Palestinians is one cubic metre every three weeks. That's approximately what it takes to fill a standard Canadian bathtub one and a half times.
Under an interim water policy agreement brokered between Israel and Yasser Arafat in the 1995 Oslo II Accords, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for its share of water.
The problem stems, however, from the fact Palestinians have no control over how much water they are given.
As a result, the executive director of Jerusalem-based human rights group B'Tselem says most of the water goes to the Israeli population.
"About 70 per cent of all water resources are being used by Israel, and as a result there simply isn't enough water for the Palestinian population," Jessica Montell told CTV News.
So, while the World Health Organization recommends daily access to 100 litres of water a day per person, Palestinians come closer to an average 70 litres per day. In the neighbouring Israeli settlements daily consumption is up to four times higher.
But officials at Israel's water authority say that's simply not true. According to the head of West Bank and Gaza water administration with the Israel Water Authority, the problem is one of management, not supply.
"If they manage their water sector like we are doing they can solve their water shortage," Baruch Nagar told CTV News, suggesting that recycling and desalinating water would be good first steps.
Getting permits to build treatment facilities or drill wells is difficult considering a ban on drilling in the Palestinian areas, as well as restrictions on importing the materials necessary to repair existing sanitation systems.
"Israel doesn't allow us to drill a single well, just one well, unless we go to joint committee and even that won't help me," the Palestinian Water Authority's Dr. Shaddad Al Attili told CTV.
In the meantime, residents with the means can purchase drinking water that is delivered in private tankers. The rest, however, will have to wait.
With files from CTV's Joanne Clancy in the West Bank