Skip to content

NEWS: Concerns expressed about Palestine’s right to water

The Alternative Information Center reports that, “The United Nations and the Palestinian Water Authority have both released statements condemning Israel’s increasing attacks on the water resources of Palestinians in areas of the West Bank under Israeli control. In 2010, almost 30 water cisterns and other structures intended for rainwater harvesting or storage were destroyed by Israeli forces. In addition, 15 water wells or springs, which connect to the aquifer, were similarly demolished in different parts of the West Bank, according the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. …The actions are in violation of the ‘Joint Declaration for Keeping the Water Infrastructure out of the Cycle of Violence’ by the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee issued on 31 January 2001.”

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territories, Mr. Maxwell Gaylard, said in a statement that, “It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind the destruction of basic rain water collection systems, some of them very old, which serve marginalized rural and herder Palestinian communities where water is already scarce and where drought is an ever-present threat.”

Dr. Shaddad Attili, the Minister of the Palestinian Water Authority, said, “The Government of Israeli uses water to target some of the most vulnerable and marginalized Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank. This includes Israel’s destruction of household and community water cisterns used by Palestinians to capture rainwater runoff. Some of these cisterns are centuries old, and many are vital to the survival of Palestinian communities who have little access to water.”

In October 2009,  as noted in a media release, “Amnesty International accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies. …In a new extensive report, Amnesty International revealed the extent to which Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water. Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the OPT, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent.”

Israel abstained from the vote recognizing the human right to water and sanitation at the historic United Nations General Assembly session this past July. Palestine is a not a United Nations member state, it is a ‘non-member entity’ with observer status, so it could not vote on this resolution.

It should also be noted that Friends of the Earth Middle East is “a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists.” Their ‘Water as a human right in Israel’ publication “is part of the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s series on Water as a Human Right in the Middle East. It focuses on national realities, but also offers a base for a comprehensive understanding of the regional picture following the criteria of the UN concept of Water as a Human Right.”

The Alternative Information Center article is at The Amnesty International article and report can be found at The ‘Water as a human right in Israel’ report can be read at More about the Friends of the Earth Middle East water work can be found at