Thirsty for Justice: How Israel Deprives the Palestinians of Access to Water

As many of us in the United States thankfully now recognize, this act of resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies constitutes only the latest chapter in the centuries-long struggle by the Indigenous peoples of this continent against the genocidal forces of settler colonialism.
As a 2009 World Bank report on water restrictions in the Occupied Territories put it, many Palestinian communities in the West Bank, particularly in the area under strictest Israeli control, "face water access comparable to that of refugee camps in Congo or Sudan."
By year’s end, Gaza’s only source of water, the Coastal Aquifer, will be depleted, and irreversibly so by 2020, when the UN projects that Gaza will be literally uninhabitable.
In the West Bank, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, documents how Israeli authorities routinely confiscate and demolish Palestinian water infrastructure.
The official UN fact-finding mission on the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict (codename Operation Cast Lead) found that Israel deliberately bombed water treatment and sewage facilities in Gaza for no other purpose than to inflict collective punishment on the residents of Gaza — a major war crime.
According to B’Tselem, from 1967 to 1996, Israel granted Palestinians just 13 permits, and all these permits only covered domestic projects; in other words, they wouldn’t even cover the work needed to repair existing wells and pipes, let alone expand the water network in order to serve the growing population.
Keep in mind that the Mountain Aquifer is the only source of water for the Palestinians living in the West Bank, because since 1967, Israel has prevented Palestinians from accessing the shores of the Jordan River.
Amnesty International described the situation more plainly in its report, writing that, "The Joint Water Committee merely institutionalized the intrinsically discriminatory system of Israeli control over Palestinian resources that had already been in existence since Israel’s occupation of [the West Bank and Gaza] three decades earlier."
The World Bank and Amnesty International pointed out that between 2001 and 2009, about one-half of all Palestinian projects presented to the JWC were approved, compared to the near 100 percent approval rate for Israeli projects.
Recent reports show this pattern of settler violence against Palestinians and their allies continuing up to the present.

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