RAMALLAH, June 15 (JMCC) – While Israel
continues to defend the legitimacy of its blockade
of the Gaza Strip
, another sort of disaster is looming in the occupied Palestinian territory: one and a half million Palestinians are facing a severe water shortage.
Palestinian minister of water Shaddad Attili warns that Gaza is on the verge of “a new and dangerous humanitarian crisis” due to the lack of adequate drinking water during the hot summer season.
Speaking at a press conference organized by the Palestinian Government Media Center
, Attili said that the water shortage, increased pollution, the lack of a viable sewage system and Israel’s complete control over Palestinian water resources spell disaster.
“To solve this crisis, the only option we have is desalination of sea water, or waste water refinement, which is impossible to implement at this time due to the high costs required,” said Attili.
Further, Israel’s ban on imports of building materials into the Gaza Strip prevents the construction of clean water treatment plants.
“It is hard for Palestinians to construct desalination stations in the Gaza Strip due to the blockade,” says Attili. “Our estimates indicate that most wells in the Strip have high salinity levels as a result of sea water seeping through. Waste water has polluted a high percentage of the wells and there is a drought in the valleys that are considered a primary resource for groundwater aquifers in the Strip.”
Attili said that this water crisis has been in the making since the Oslo agreements
were signed in 1994. The Palestinian authority is allotted five percent of water resources in the occupied Palestinian territories, and is allowed to buy a similar share -- which is far from enough due to high population growth among Palestinians over the past 14 years.
Given these resources, the Palestinian government is only able to provide its citizens with an average of 60 liters per person per day -- 90 liters less than what the World Health Organization recommends for individual use.
In Israel, the daily individual average use of water is 400 liters per person.