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Global protests highlight severe water crisis in Gaza and West Bank

An international light installation coordinated by the ‘Water Coalition’ calls for equal water rights for Palestinians.

International light installation coordinated by the Coalition of Women for Peace along with the "Water Coalition," calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, August 14, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An international light installation coordinated by the “Water Coalition,” calls for equal water rights for Palestinians, August 14, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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.

Israeli activists hold illuminated letters that spell out "Water is a basic right" as part of an international light installation coordinated by the "Water Coalition," calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, August 14, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists hold illuminated letters that spell out “Water is a basic right” as part of an international light installation coordinated by the “Water Coalition,” calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, Jaffa, August 14, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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.

Activists hold illuminated Arabic letters that spell out "Water is a basic right" as part of an international light installation coordinated by the "Water Coalition," calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, August 14, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Activists hold illuminated Arabic letters that spell out “Water is a basic right” as part of an international light installation coordinated by the “Water Coalition,” calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, Jaffa, August 14, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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.

International light installation coordinated by the Coalition of Women for Peace along with the "Water Coalition," calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, August 14, 2016.

International light installation coordinated by the Coalition of Women for Peace along with the “Water Coalition,” calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, New York, August 14, 2016.

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.

International light installation coordinated by the Coalition of Women for Peace along with the "Water Coalition," calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, August 14, 2016.

International light installation coordinated by the Coalition of Women for Peace along with the “Water Coalition,” calling for equal water rights for Palestinians, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 14, 2016.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Good Article. Thanks for supporting Palestinians’ right to water.. Very appreciated. Still need more support and help to get our rights and stop Israeli violations against Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    2. R5

      Do these people even knew that there’s an actual siege on the city of Aleppo? It is truly mind-boggling how much Israel tunnel vision has warped the mind of the SJW. You could have a Sarin attack with 10,000 dead in a country right next to Israel and they would keep making neon signs. Really bizarre stuff.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      Hasbara alert: don’t talk about the Occupation, talk about something else.

      Reply to Comment
    4. R5

      Anti-Semitism alert: there is no “Hasbara” taking place – I am an individual who works for a private business expressing a personal opinion, not someone working for an Israeli government initiative. Really shameful that BDS has pushed the boundaries of decency so far that accusing strangers of working for the State of Israel and other casual Jewish conspiracy delusions are now 100% PC.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bruce Gould

      Hasbara is not just limited to efforts at explanation/changing the subject by the Israeli government: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_diplomacy_of_Israel

      What does Aleppo have to do with the water situation in Israelistine?

      Reply to Comment
    6. R5

      You’re right, except that my comment has nothing to do with explaining anything about policies of the Israeli government – I was attacking the credibility of people making neon signs for being myopic. Your use of “Hasbara” is purely ad hominem and has no basis in the substance of my comment, even according to the Wikipedia definition. Which is anti-Semitic. It’s coded way to say “Jew talking” – that is unless you think that +60% of America is engaging in “Hasbara” when they express favorable views of Israel in opinion polls? No? Didn’t think so.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Mike

      Problem is, it is not true that israel caused the Palestinian water problem. For example. The PA can take a lot more water from its aquifers. But it does not. It could invest in recycling and desalination, like Israel. But it does not. It could attend the joint water planning committee with israel. But it has refused to attend for over four years. It could adopt economical drip irrigation like israel. But its farmers use the more profligate food irrigation techniques, it could fix its own distribution system which loses 30 per cent. But it does not. Israel adds to its original water sourcing through good management like recycling and efficient pipes. The P A starts at a similar level, but takes away water through terrible management. Hence the disparity of available water at the point of consumption.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Mike

      I am sorry guys, there is no right to potable water. It is a limited physical, physical resource that can only be available through investment and good management. There is a right here however. The right that your government will do the work needed to provide you water. The Israeli government has done over the history of the state a superb job. In a part of the world where water is very scarce, Israel now has water security although its population has grown tenfold. But this right has been denied by the PA to its citizens.
      I became aware of this failure when I once talked to an Euro who has been assigned to the Palestinian Water Authority on an international project. He saw the solutions: recycling, infrastructure improvements (international funds were available), using the Mountain Aquifier (they have a right to do so under Oslo), conservation etc. But he also saw that his fellow local workers came to their desks about 9, checked phones and emails, went for morning coffee at 11. And never returned. He resigned after 6 months.
      The moral is that the PA would rather have a propaganda weapon to use against Israel than provide services to its citizens.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Ben

      I’m sorry too, Mike, but your “what I heard some guy say somewhere” innuendo is utterly inconsequential and belied by the facts Edo Konrad provides above. And here:
      http://972mag.com/visualizing-occupation-distribution-of-water/49925/

      The “government” here is COGAT and the Civil Administration. It is the occupying power. It is responsible. It controls all the water and all the people. It does a “superb” job for Jewish settlers and a criminally awful job for Palestinian Arabs on the same land and with respect to the same water beneath it. Thievery is thievery. Israeli cynicism and entitlement just boggles the mind.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Mike

      Ben. You are taking about area c only. Where I agree things are unequal, and that is wrong. The reference image to the international cnsultant was not meant to be evidence. Before I talked to him I accepted the Palestinian narrative. As a result of talking to him I researched the issue. And I am discussing here the PA where about 95% of Palestinians live and the problem is clear. They have water they control in the mountan aquifer without qualification, plus more water from israel than originally agreed under Oslo. And their government just will not or cannot get it to their citizens. Israel, Gaza and Arabs a and b live in the same water resource. Israel manages it, the P A not. Where is the desalination plant in Gaza? It is just a few kms from the Israeli ones, the same sea. Why cannot the P A copy israel and recycle 70% of its household water? Why cannot the P A fix its distribution system to bring down waste from about 30% to the Israeli figure of 12%?

      Reply to Comment
    11. R5

      R5: Mike, don’t waste your time. Ben doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist, let alone the binding obligations of anyone (like the PA) who signs a deal like Oslo. Ben will always fall back on “but Israel is the occupying power” because he doesn’t recognize that Oslo or any other deal will oblige the Palestinians to do anything for themselves.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Ben

      “Ben doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist”

      No, you just made that up. Now you are over the edge into outright trolling. Bye bye.

      Reply to Comment
    13. R5

      Ben: I guess it was SUPER unfair of me to assume that a Jew-baiter who throws around “Hasbara” slurs believes in Israel’s legitimacy. Prove me wrong – do you think Israel has a right to exist?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Bernie X

      ‘Talk about something else’. Suffering?

      Reply to Comment
    15. i_like_ike52

      Some years ago it was reported that the Palestinian Authority had not incentive to fix the water pipe infrastructure which has a very bad leakage problem because people with close connections to the Palestinian Authority had a lucrative business selling water out of tanker trucks at inflated prices. I also read that this situation also exists in Lebanon. I would not be surprised if the situation regarding the tankers has not chagne.
      Instead of constantly blaming everyone else for their problems, why don’t they simply fix their water infrastructure which will eliminate any shortages.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Ben

      Is that one of those Trumpian “some people say” assertions? It’s always illuminating when the prison camp rulers blame the prisoners for their predicament. Why can’t those open air prison camp denizens get their act together? . . . Why if Jews were massively imprisoned in a large camp I’m sure we’d sort it out and get those underground pipes all fixed lickety split. But those Arabs. Tsk tsk tsk. I’m sure if we Jews got 14% of the water allocated to us for more than half the total population we’d be filling swimming pools with it cuz our pipes would be so great. We have fantastic pipes. The best pipes. Why can’t those people make do with 14% when we make do with 86%? It just goes to show you, those people. Some people say that. I’ve heard.

      Reply to Comment