In a report by the Wafa news agency, the agency found that in Israel’s ongoing aggression against the Gaza Strip since October 7th, 2023, the Israeli occupation has used water sources as a weapon to restrict citizens. It imposed a siege on the Strip, cut off water, bombed networks, and prevented the entry of fuel to operate desalination plants and wells, reducing the per capita share of water. Water is limited to between three and fifteen liters per day only.

In the West Bank, the picture is not much different, as the Israeli occupation controls the largest proportion of water sources that reach the Palestinians, and thus also exploits this as a weapon to fight the Palestinian presence on the land, and complete its colonial project of forced displacement and seizing more lands.

Israel considers the water issue “fundamental and strategic for the future of its existence,” and it is also “fundamental and strategic” for the future of the Palestinian state, at a time when all sectors depend on water security, and its direct connection to food security, and the presence of water is the basis of life in any population centers, and it is What the occupation seeks to attack.

In a measure repeated annually, the Israeli company Mekorot, a few days ago, reduced the quantities of water allocated to the Hebron and Bethlehem governorates in the south of the West Bank, where the percentage of reduction from the main water source of Deir Shaar that feeds these two governorates reached approximately 35 % , followed by a reduction in the interest areas. Ramallah’s water supply exceeded 50%, which created a major crisis for many communities, especially in the summer, and with the continuing rise in temperatures, and it became difficult to supply them with the prescribed quotas as a result of this reduction.

Although the Israeli company gradually restored water pumping, after two days of stopping, water access to citizens is still fluctuating.

The occupation’s measures of preventing the Palestinians from exploiting their natural resources, especially water, or digging new wells after seizing the old wells and the lands on which the colonies were built, and depriving them of using the water of the Jordan River, prompted the Palestinians to compensate for the shortage by purchasing water from “Mekorot”, where it reached… The amount of water purchased for domestic use is 98.8 million m3 in 2022, which constitutes 22% of the amount of available water, which amounted to 445.7 million m3 , of which 38.8 million m3 is water flowing from Palestinian springs, and 298.5 million m3 is water pumped from Ground wells and 9.6 million m3 of desalinated drinking water, which constitute 2.2% of available water, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

The head of the Water Authority, Mazen Ghoneim, told “Wafa” that reducing the percentage of water by “Mekorot” is a political issue, for several reasons, the most important of which is that it will not provide life for Palestinian communities, and for other areas related to agriculture, and strategic projects, especially those close to the settlements in Areas called “C”, with the aim of displacing the Palestinians and seizing their lands for the benefit of colonial expansion. Therefore, Israel uses water as a blackmail tool for the Palestinians.

Ghoneim pointed out that the Israeli company annually makes the excuse that “the problem is technical,” as the water crisis continued for several months last year, especially in the southern West Bank, but in reality, “Mekorot” gives priority to the colonists and illegal colonies at the expense of the Palestinian citizen and Palestinian cities and towns.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average Palestinian per capita consumption of water is 85.7 liters per day of water, 86.4 liters per day per capita in the West Bank, and 84.6 liters in the Gaza Strip (it decreased to less than 15 liters after the aggression), which is less than the recommended minimum. Globally, it is estimated at 100 liters per day according to World Health Organization standards, while Israeli consumption is estimated to be 6 times that of Palestinian consumption.

Ghoneim confirmed that the percentage of water reduction in the south of the West Bank reached 40% at one point, which is the most important for the suppliers of these areas, as today we are talking about 20 thousand cubic meters per day reaching this point, out of 32 thousand.

The Hebron Municipality had appealed to the international community and human rights institutions a few days ago to urgently intervene to solve the water crisis in the southern West Bank, warning of the worsening of the water crisis at this time, which would double the suffering of citizens and deprive them of their most basic rights to obtain water whose quantities are not up to par. Normality to the level required for the per capita quota.

The municipality confirmed that the main goal of reducing water quantities is to increase the settlers’ share of water at the expense of the share of the Hebron and Bethlehem governorates, and the irregular arrival of the allocated water quantities will lead to confusion in the water distribution schedule.

In turn, the Jerusalem Governorate Water Authority announced the continued shortage of water supplied by the Israeli company “Mekorot”, which led to confusion in the distribution program in the concession area. The Authority called on subscribers to rationalize consumption, stressing that efforts will be made to ensure water reaches all subscribers.

Ghoneim explained in numbers that the percentage of purchasing water from Mekorot for domestic use amounts to 55%, at a rate of 75-80 million cubic meters annually for the West Bank out of the 128 million that are related to our annual consumption, meaning 60% of potable water. In Gaza, we have 53 thousand cubic meters out of 330 thousand, which represents 55% of potable water.

He pointed out that there are Palestinian governorates that do not take water from the “Mekorot” company: Nablus, Qalqilya, and Tubas, which are areas that benefit from their own wells. As for the governorates that depend on the “Mekorot” company, reducing the water percentage causes a decrease in pumping pressure, which It is prevented from reaching remote areas, thus creating a crisis in some areas, especially in the south, which suffers from a shortage of water compared to consumption, in addition to infringements and thefts that reach 12-15 thousand cups per day.

He said that the Israeli company’s bills are deducted monthly from Palestinian tax revenues (clearance), in addition to deducting 120 million shekels annually in exchange for wastewater treatment. Despite this, we are not able to obtain the amount of water we want, and the occupation controls the percentage that it pumps to us. Some areas need 5-6 cups, and they did not get them despite paying for them, knowing that any quantities are not increased except for reasons that are being studied by the occupation, so that it does not conflict with their plans, and from here comes the issue of the water blockade and the restrictions on our people.

Ghoneim said that the geographical divisions and barriers created by the occupation prevent the establishment of any independent water system in Palestine, as is the case in the world, which has this system with integrated management and works within a group of sources that pump into the system, but this matter is difficult to establish in Palestine due to the geographical aspect and the dismemberment of connections. Between regions, in addition, the existing quantities of water are insufficient to cover the deficit in other regions.

He added: All the projects that we are implementing are related to the rehabilitation of networks, in order to reduce the existing losses to a minimum, whether at the level of distribution within the areas of service providers, or at the level of wholesale and transmission lines, knowing that the minimum percentage is 50% of the water budget, which goes For agriculture, which constitutes a burden on us, and from here we began to think about relying on alternative sources to reduce costs, by reusing treated water in agriculture.

Ghoneim stressed that all the solutions we are looking for, which alleviate crises, and the alternatives are simple, improve the water reality, but the final solution lies in ending the occupation and establishing an independent state, and going towards benefiting from basins and water sources, and establishing an integrated water system, noting that we have a set of systems. We seek to raise their efficiency and the efficiency of the networks as much as possible, as there is a remarkable improvement and development in the water situation compared to what it was 15 years ago, but these issues remain limited in light of the presence of the occupation, especially in the last four years, when there has been more restrictions and expansion of the colonies. And the infrastructure of the colonies, by developing their water sources, which reflects negatively on us by reducing the Palestinian presence and confining it to specific and narrow spaces to complete their project of displacement and control of the entire West Bank.

In light of the frequent water outages and the reduction in rates from the Israeli company, many citizens are forced to buy water tanks to compensate for the shortage, in light of the difficult economic situation.

Citizen Ali Hamad from Ramallah, who works on a water tanker, said that the price of a water tank with a capacity of 3 cubic meters varies from one region to another. There are regions where it is sold for 250 shekels, and in other regions it reaches 400 shekels.

He pointed out that the demand for tanks increases during the summer due to the crisis created by the Israeli company on the one hand, and the increased demand for water use by citizens on the other hand.

In this regard, Ghoneim said that the Water Authority had previously licensed a number of tankers with the aim of ensuring the safety and quality of the water being transported, and to ascertain the source from which the population is being supplied, pointing out that some points had been provided in the southern region to be used in the event of any accident. A deficit, so that homes do not remain completely without water.

The “water issue” is one of the main issues related to the final solution to the Palestinian issue, but the Israeli occupation is trying to exploit water according to political agendas that threaten the security and stability of the region as a whole.

Director of the Palestinian Hydrologists Association, Abdul Rahman Al-Tamimi, confirms that the issue is at its root political with the aim of blackmailing the Palestinian National Authority, especially since the Oslo Accords stipulated that the relationship is between the National Authority and the “Mekorot” company on commercial grounds, and not with the Israeli government. Therefore, the latter is exploiting this. The clause is for political pressure on the one hand, and to find justification for increasing prices, which is what happened in previous years, when the Israeli company raised its prices in the Palestinian market, in the event that something happened that led to Israeli blackmail .

He explained that discussing the issue of water rights was postponed until the final negotiations, and these rights are our right to groundwater within the borders of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, our right to exploit the waters of the Jordan River, and our right to sovereignty over all water sources in the State of Palestine. On the other hand, Israel does not recognize our sovereignty over water sources. Water, and imposes its control over all these sources .

Regarding the water reality, Al-Tamimi said that there are several problems, the most important of which is population increase and uncontrolled and unplanned urban expansion, and this is what prompted people to migrate from the countryside to the city, in addition to Israel’s reduction in the amounts given to the Palestinians .

He said that Israel seeks to turn us into customers of the Mekorot company through water reductions, and not citizens who have the right to control their water sources, which is what the Israelis talk about day and night .

He recommended that this issue be addressed at the international political level, as one of Israel’s violations of human rights, and not just an Israeli-Palestinian matter, in addition to preparing a joint Arab file (Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, Lebanese) on the Palestinians’ right to the Jordan River, and referring it to international courts.

It is noteworthy that international conventions, treaties and declarations guarantee the right to obtain safe drinking water and sanitation services, as a basic condition for living a dignified life and supporting human rights. However, the Israeli occupation continues to violate this right, like other Palestinian rights, most importantly their right to life.