Water tankering projects target the most vulnerable communities in Area C

Published as part of

Water shortage increases the risk of forcible transfer

The majority of Palestinian communities across Area C of the West Bank face serious water access problems. According to the Vulnerability Profile Project (VPP) - a comprehensive survey of all Area C communities coordinated by OCHA in 2013 - 180 residential areas are not connected to the water network and another 122 have a connection with no or an irregular supply.[1] This situation is directly linked to the restrictive discriminatory planning and zoning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C.[2]

These communities rely on rainwater harvesting during winter and the first months of spring, and on tankered water from June to October. The cost of piped water supplied from networks is about five NIS per cubic metre (m³), but residents of the most isolated communities pay between 20 to 50 NIS/m³ to private vendors depending on the distance and access constraints. These water purchases can account for up to half of the family’s monthly expenses in the poorest communities.

Limited access to water has a direct impact on people’s well-being, contributes to the continuous erosion of their income and livelihoods, and increases their exposure to intimidation and violence while they are fetching water from distant sources. These factors, combined with the destruction of homes and livelihood-related structures due to lack of building permits, creates a coercive environment that increases the risk of forcible transfer.

Subsidizing water tankering

To alleviate this situation, GVC (an international NGO) and UNICEF will coordinate with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) in a project targeting communities in Area C with an average water consumption of less than 30 litres per capita per day (l/c/d), and/or pay more than 20 NIS/m³ for tankered water. Based on these criteria, 79 communities with a population of approximately 20,700 were identified. 

All residents of these communities will be supplied with 30 l/c/d of subsidized water at a price of 10 NIS/m³ for a period of 90 days, regardless of the location of the community or the supply point. Additionally, the 33 schools operating in the targeted areas will be allocated five litres per day per pupil, and the two clinics with receive 10 l/c/d free of charge.

The distribution will based on coupon system sold by community representatives in coordination with the Joint Service Councils of the targeted areas. A PWA database for coupon management will facilitate implementation and monitoring, and ensure efficiency and equity. Beneficiaries will be directly involved in the process to enhance accountability. The project aims to start in August and will cost approximately USD $500,000.

The Israeli water company reduces water supply to villages in the northern West Bank

From the beginning of June 2016, the Israeli water company Mekorot, which is the largest supplier of piped water in the West Bank, reduced the quantity of water pumped to 14 Palestinian villages in the Nablus, Qalqilia, Salfit, and Jenin governorates.[3] According to the Palestinian Water Authority and local Palestinian sources, the reduction ranged from between 50 and 70 per cent. This has forced over 150,000 people living in the affected villages to increase reliance on expensive tankered water to meet their domestic and livelihood needs. A spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Defense told the Israeli media that, “as a result of increased water consumption in the summer, the flow must be managed and regulated to enable the highest possible supply to all the population. Given this problem, the head of the Civil Administration has approved an emergency regulation to operate the Ariel 1 drill rig to increase the amount of water to residents of northern Samaria”.[4]  According to the Israel Water Authority, the water shortage in the northern West Bank has also affected Israeli settlements.[5]

The 12th anniversary of the ICJ advisory opinion

On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The ICJ recognized that while Israel “has to face numerous indiscriminate and deadly acts of violence against its civilian population” and that it “has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens … the measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.”

The ICJ stated that the sections of the Barrier route which ran inside the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violated Israel’s obligations under international law. The ICJ called on Israel to cease construction of the Barrier “including in and around East Jerusalem”; dismantle the sections already completed; and “repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto”. The ICJ also called on Israel to “make reparations” for the “requisition and destruction of homes, businesses and agricultural holdings” and “to return the land, orchards, olive groves and other immovable property seized”. The Court also obligated member states not to recognize the illegal situation created by the Barrier and to ensure Israel’s compliance with international law. Although this is a non-binding advisory legal opinion, on 20 July 2004 the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved Resolution ES-10/15 calling for Israel to comply with the ICJ opinion.[6]

[1] A dynamic database presenting the VPP findings is available at: https://www.ochaopt.org/vpp.aspx.

[2] See Report of the Secretary-General on “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan”, A/HRC/31/43, 20 January 2016, para. 69. See also OCHA, “Under Threat: Demolition Orders in Area C of the West Bank”, September 2015.

[3] The affected villages are: Huwara, Deir Al Hatab, Salem, Azmout, Jit, Sarra, Kafr Qaddum, Al-Funduq, Jinsafut, Qarawat Bani Hassan, Biddya, Fandaqumiya, Asa’sa and Silat ad-Dhahr.

[4] Amira Hass, “Israel Admits Cutting West Bank Water Supply, but Blames Palestinian Authority”, Ha’aretz, 21 June 2016.

[5] Ibid.

[6] The full text of the ICJ opinion can be found here.