An international light installation coordinated by the ‘Water Coalition’ calls for equal water rights for Palestinians.
Activists across the world organized light installation protests over the past few days to bring attention to the diminishing water supply for Palestinians in the West Bank, along with contamination and severe water shortages in the Gaza Strip. In a display of lights reflected in the water, activists from Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Boston, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Melbourne, and Perth stood alongside ponds and beaches forming illuminated words reading, “Water is a basic right,” in different languages.
Israel has taken control of most sources of water in the West Bank. The amount of fresh water produced by the Mountain Aquifer, located inside the West Bank, stands at an average of 400 million cubic meters annually. During the Oslo Accords Israel began rationing 80 percent of that water to its own citizens, while the remaining 20 percent went to the Palestinian Authority.
Following over-pumping of the aquifer, salt accumulation, and water loss due to faulty pipelines, these figures changed for the worse. Today the distribution of water between Israel and the Palestinian Authority stands at 86 percent versus a mere 14 percent.Throughout the sweltering summer months, Israeli policies have prompted water outages in the West Bank.
As it stands, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank suffer from a severe shortage of water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, irrigation, livestock and crops. The situation in Gaza is worse: as if the water shortage isn’t enough, recent studies indicate dangerous contamination of existing water reservoirs due to the ongoing blockade on Gaza, which began in 2007, and the inability to desalinate water due to the lack of electricity.
The organizers of the project indicate that fresh water consumption per capita, for domestic and urban purposes in Israel and the settlements, stands at an average of 183 liters daily. The average consumption per capita in the Palestinian Authority stands at 73 liters alone for domestic, municipal, and industrial purposes. This amount is less than the minimum designated by the World Health Organization for daily consumption per person.
The installation was organized by activists from the Coalition of Women for Peace, which is part of the “Water Coalition,” comprised of 20 organizations working together to defend Palestinians’ right to water. Reem Amer, general co-coordinator of WCP, and among the organizers of the event, noted:
We initiated this action to bring public attention to this unbearable reality of people surviving the hot summer without adequate access to such a basic need like water. We see this as an inseparable part of a policy of oppression under occupation. This reality makes us all responsible to stand up to injustice, and it is exciting to see people around the world respond to our call for action on this issue.
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.