Israel ‘cuts off water supply to West Bank’ during Muslim holy month

Thousands of Palestinians have reportedly been left without access to safe drinking water during Ramadan as Israel has cut off the water supply to large areas of the West Bank

PALESTINE – Israel has cut water supplies to large areas of West Bank leaving thousands of Palestinians without sufficient drinking water during the holy month of Ramadan.

Mekorot, the main supplier of water, has shut down supply to a large part of Palestine.

Ayman Rabi, the executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera that in some areas people have not received water for more than 40 days. He further added that people are relying on purchasing water from water trucks and alternative sources such as springs.

Mekorot, Israel’s national water company cut off water supplies to the entire governorate of Jenin, several Nablus villages, the city of Salfit and surrounding villages.

To compensate for the water cut, Palestinians have resorted to buying water tanks to meet their basic needs. The added expenditure of 250 shekels (Dh237) is a financial burden for many families who cannot afford it.

According to UN guidelines, 7.5 litres per person per day is the minimum requirement under normal conditions but in some areas of the Palestinian territories the minimum requirement is much higher.

Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, denied cutting the water supplies, saying there was only broad reduction in water supply to the Palestinian territory.

“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.”

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, Jammain, Salfit and Tapuach.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah issued a statement denouncing Israel’s action. “Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service, Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place” Rami Hamdallah said.

Ragheb Al Haj Hassan, Jenin mayor said, ‘Residents suffer badly in this hot weather and at this time of Ramadan.’

Ayman Rabi, the executive director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, told in some areas people had not received water for more than 40 days. Families are have to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day.

Israel is waging a water war against Palestinians,” said Jamal Dajani Director of Strategic Media and Communications, calling Mekorot’s practice “inhumane and outrageous.”

“It is not enough for Israel to systematically appropriate Palestinian land and usurp Palestine’s natural resources; they also refuse the Palestinians the right to water.”

Since 1967, Israel has limited the water available to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since its forces occupied the territories.

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