Palestinian water experts warned on Monday that the Palestinian territories are approaching a hot summer with high risks of water-shortages due to Israeli obstacles and natural dryness. Experts also warned of potential disease spreading due to contamination of underground water aquifers due to waste water leakages.
In a press conference held Monday afternoon in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, the Executive Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, Dr Ayman al Rabi, stated his expectation that the Israeli authorities will reduce the quantity of water provided to the Palestinians, and that currently represents 55% of Palestinian water needs, through the Israeli water company of Mokorot. Palestinians obtain the rest of their water from springs and wells.
He added that the Ramallah district and its surroundings purchase water from the Israeli water company, while the situation in the Gaza Strip is on the verge of a disaster as waste water is leaking and contaminating the aquifer there. He warned of diseases like Cholera and Typhoid.
He noted that 25% of Palestinian communities are not connected to water networks and rely on springs and gathering rain water. Accroding to Dr. Rabi, Palestinians spend 30-40% of their monthly income on water which is very high in comparison the recognized world average of 5% of income spent on water.
He revealed that 10% of Palestinian communities are living on less than ten litres of water per day per individual while the average for Israeli settlers is around 200- 300 liters per day. With a total number of three hundred thousand settlers living in the West Bank, it adds up to over 600 cubic meters of water consumption per day by the settler community in the West Bank.
He affirmed that the Palestinian water shortage will amount to 270 cubic meters out of 400 million cubic meters needed in total while the consumed is 130 million cubic meters clarifying that after the completion of the construction of the Separation Wall, 1000 square meters of a Palestinian aquifer will be confiscated which represent 60% of the total quantity of water currently available to Palestinians, with only 15-20% of water under PAlestinian Authority control.
Dr Shadad al A’teeli, head of the negotiations support unit said that the Israeli government is threatening the Palestinians with a very hot summer of water shortage after its offensive of ‘Hot Winter’ on the Gaza Strip despite the fact that the Palestinians have the right to four recognized aquifers.
Al A’teeli revealed an Israeli proposal to the Palestinians of purchasing water for the Gaza Strip from the Israeli city of Asqalan and from al Khderah to the West Bank clarifying that the amount of water available to the Palestinians 13 years after Oslo agreements is 118 million cubic meters.
He added that the solution to the crisis is in dismantling the settlements of the Jordan Valley which require 250 million cubic meters of water, and for the Palestinians to gain their right to water in case a viable state with the elements of water and geography are established since water is one of the important five issues of the final status agreement.