- Water is essential to life. Denying it is criminal.
- Water and sanitation are recognized as indispensable
human rights. In July 2010, the General Assembly's Resolution 64/292 affirmed
it. It called on member states and international organizations to:
- "provide financial resources, build capacity and
transfer technology, particularly to development countries, in scaling
up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water
and sanitation for all."
- Dozens of countries incorporated water rights in their
constitutional or statute laws. Most, however, haven't fulfilled promised
- In her 2002 book titled, "Water Wars: Privatization,
Pollution, and Profit," activist/ecologist Vandana Shiva called water
rights natural and "usufructuary....water can be used but not owned."
- It belongs to everyone as an essential "basis of
all life. (U)nder customary laws, the right to water has been accepted
as a natural, social fact."
- Shiva's nine water democracy principles, include:
- (1) it's nature's gift;
- (2) it's essential to life;
- (3) "life is interconnected through water;"
- (4) it must be free "for sustenance needs;"
- (5) it's limited and exhaustible;
- (6) it must be conserved;
- (7) it's a commons;
- (8) "no one has a right to overuse, abuse, waste,
pollute," or own it; it belongs to everyone; it can't be treated as
a commodity; and
- (9) there's no substitute.
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR) affirms adequate clean water as an essential human right.
- The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights'
(CESCR) Comment No. 15 states:
- "(T)he human right to water entitles everyone to
sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water
for personal and domestic uses."
- In violation, Israel arbitrarily disconnects or excludes
Palestinians from water sources, services or facilities. It contributes
to polluting and reducing their resources. It fails to protect their distribution
- It hasn't adopted or implemented a water policy designed
to ensure equitable supplies for everyone. It also failed to provide Palestinians
with essential minimum availability to allocate disproportionate amounts
to settlers and Israeli Jews.
- Al-Haq's Report on Israel's Water Policy
- On November 29, the human rights organization Al-Haq
published a report titled, "The Right to Water - A Policy of Denial
and Forced Displacement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," saying:
- For many years, Palestinians "suffered from a shortage
of clean, safe water." With several productive aquifers, the Jordan
River, and other natural water sources, scarcity's not the issue.
- Israeli policy's at fault. By appropriating and controlling
Palestinian water sources, unequal distribution resulted. Systematic discrimination
allocates most water to Israel, its settlements, and East Jerusalem's Jewish
- As a result, Palestinians have been gravely impacted.
Around 313,000 people in 113 communities aren't connected to a water network.
They depend on costly private sources delivered by truck. Another 50,000
in 151 communities have less than 30 liters per capita daily (lpcd).
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends minimally
100 lpcd. Average daily Palestinian consumption is 70 lpcd. Many communities
get only 20. WHO calls it the minimum amount for "short-term survival"
in emergency/disaster situations.
- The inequality level between Jews and Arabs is appalling.
Israel's Dead Sea Mitzpe Shalem and Qalya settlements consume about 700
lpcd. Beda'ot and Ro'i Jordan Valley settlements enjoy over 400 lpcd solely
for household use.
- Nearby Palestinian al-Hadidya village gets 22 lpcd. About
500,000 West Bank settlement Jews consume around six times more water than
2.5 million Palestinians. Including agricultural use, the disparity's much
- Israel appropriates 70% of Eastern Aquifer water. Palestinians
without springs, wells and other natural sources must travel long distances
for access or pay exorbitant privatized prices. In contrast, settlers enjoy
plentiful supplies for drinking, irrigation, gardens, and swimming pools.
- Around 1.6 million Gazans have one source only - the
Coastal Aquifer's southern end. Israel denies importing water from natural
supplies. To compensate, Palestinians over-used their one source at twice
its annual sustainable yield. As a result, Gazan water quality experienced
- While Gazans have marginally more water than West Bank
Palestinians, 90 - 95% of it "is polluted by raw sewage and the infiltration
of seawater, which is itself contaminated by raw sewage."
- As a result, serious waterborne diseases are common,
including "watery diarrhea and acute bloody diarrhea." Both are
major causes of death. In addition, the Coastal Aquifer has nitrate levels
exceeding WHO standards by up to 1,600% and chloride ones of 1,200%.
- Under siege, moreover, materials necessary to improve
water and sanitation infrastructure are denied. Through mid-2011, 17 water
and sanitation projects were on indefinite hold due to lack of what's needed
to implement them.
- It's estimated that all natural Gazan water will be unusable
by 2016. As a result, the Strip will be unfit for human habitation.
- In the West Bank's Israeli controlled Area C, Palestinian
cisterns, wells and springs are regularly destroyed. At times, water infrastructure
is also to free more water up for settlers. Israel also targets rooftop
storage containers, water tankers and tractors used to transport water,
including ones belonging to humanitarian organizations.
- From January - July 2011, 755 Palestinians were forcibly
displaced following destruction of their homes as well as water and irrigation
infrastructure. The welfare of another 1,400 were also adversely affected.
- In addition, settlers regularly attack Palestinian water
sources and infrastructure. Vandalism includes filling a distribution pipe
with concrete, dumping raw sewage, diapers, and chicken carcasses into
spring water, and using large rocks to impede its flow. These and others
like them happen regularly with impunity.
- Israel's Separation Wall not only steals Palestinian
land, it denies them access, including often to water sources. In fact,
the Wall's path "clearly places control of Palestinian water sources
in the hands of Israel." It entirely denies them access to the water-rich
- Cut off from two-thirds of their land, Jayyus villagers
get only 23 lpcd. In summer, it's rationed to two hours daily. Qalqilya's
43,000 residents have been separated from 80% of their agricultural land
as well as 11 wells.
- International law obligates Israel to fulfill its occupying
power obligations. So do numerous UN resolutions about respecting Fourth
Geneva and other human rights and humanitarian law provisions.
- Israel spurns all international laws with impunity, including
to nondiscrimination, work, housing, property, healthcare, education, and
environmental health. They get away with it because world leaders don't
- A Final Comment
- On November 30, the Palestinian Center for Human Right
(PCHR) noted that December 3 marks UN International Day of Disabled Persons
- In 1992, the General Assembly proclaimed it to stress
respecting, advocating and protecting their rights globally.
- Nonetheless, disabled Palestinians are abused, not protected.
Since January, Israeli soldiers killed two disabled children, saying they
encroached too close to Israel's border. Testimonial evidence refutes it.
- Moreover, one child suffered from partial mental disability
and speech impediments. Yet, 400 meters inside Gaza, ten bullets, mostly
to the head, killed him. Shrapnel from an Israeli shell killed the second
one. He was 300 meters from Israel's border.
- Since the beginning of the September 2000 second Intifada,
Israeli soldiers killed 89 disabled Palestinians, including 15 children
and seven women. They also wounded at least another 105.
- Moreover, 45 physically or emotionally disabled Palestinians
are incarcerated in Israeli prisons under appalling conditions. Some suffer
from muscle paralysis or atrophy. Others lost limbs. Some were offered
essential medical care only in exchange for spying for Israel.
- Others experienced other abusive treatment. Overall,
security forces make no effort to avoid further harm to disabled Palestinians.
Instead of helping and protecting them, they exploit their limitations
to enforce occupation harshness.
- Rights afforded them under the 1999 Palestinian Disability
Law Number 4 are denied, including Article Two, stating:
- "The disabled have the right to enjoy a free life,
dignified living, and various services in manner equal to that of other
citizens and he/she shall have the same rights and obligations that are
within his/her capabilities. It is not permissible to prevent any disabled
(person) from enjoying these rights because of his/her disability."
- Like its other legal obligations, Israel spurns special
protections for disabled persons, children, the elderly, infirm and ill.
- In Israel and Occupied Palestine, only Jews matter. Increasingly,
only privileged ones like in America and other Western societies.
- Others are marginalized, exploited and forgotten. Social
justice long ago was abandoned to enrich profiteers and top 1% elites.
- Why else would rage be spreading everywhere for rights
much too long denied. In Occupied Palestine, they never existed, even for
those most in need.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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