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Israel's separation wall construction affecting Palestinian water access, organization says

June 14, 2017 3:48 P.M. (Updated: June 14, 2017 6:00 P.M.)
(MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) accused Israel of affecting water access to parts of the central occupied West Bank due to construction of segments of its illegal separation wall, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Wednesday.

According to Wafa, the PWA said on Tuesday that a water pipeline near al-Jib in the Jerusalem district was damaged months ago when Israeli authorities built sections of the separation wall -- an Israeli structure running through the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem deemed illegal under international law and known to activists as the “apartheid wall” -- in the area, adding that the pipeline had not been repaired since.

As a result, PWA Chairman Mazen Ghneim said the Ramallah district of the West Bank serviced by the pipeline has since suffered from water shortages, exacerbated during the hot summer months.

The PWA said that, in conjunction with the Jerusalem Water Undertaking (JWU), it had contacted both Israeli authorities and Israeli water company Mekorot in order to address the issue, adding that it had informed Israel of its willingness to repair the line, without receiving a response.

According to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ), 92.5 percent of land in al-Jib, where damage to the pipeline took place, is located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control, where Palestinians need Israeli permission to carry out construction or repairs.

Ghneim held Israel responsible for any further consequences to the water crisis, and called on the international community to intervene to push Israel to resolve the situation.

A spokesperson for Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the military agency responsible for implementing Israeli government policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an that the damage incurred on the al-Jib pipeline was as "a result of aging and not as a result of the construction work on the security fence."

The spokesperson added that Israeli authorities were planning on working building a new water pipeline in the area in coming weeks.

According to Amnesty international, nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water, a situation aggravated during summer months.

Meanwhile, just half of Palestinian proposals for wells and improvement projects to the water network were approved by Israel between 1995 and 2008, compared to a 100 percent approval rate for Israeli projects, a study cited in a 2013 report by human rights group Al-Haq found.

Al-Haq estimated that up to 50 percent of Palestinian water supplies were diverted by Mekorot over the summer months to meet the consumption needs of Israel's illegal settlements.

Israelis, including settlers, have access to 300 liters of water per day, according to international water and sanitation organization EWASH, while the West Bank average is around 70 liters, below the World Health Organization's recommended minimum of 100 liters per day for basic sanitation, hygiene, and drinking.
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