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Access to clean water is a human right, so why is Palestine an exception?

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Free access to clean water is a basic human right. This is not just a common-sense assertion, but also a binding legal commitment enshrined in international law. In November 2002, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted “General Comment No. 15” regarding the right to water: “The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realisation of other human rights.” (Article I.1)

The discussion on water as a human right culminated years later in UN General Assembly resolution, 64/292 of 28 July, 2010. It explicitly “recognises the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

It all makes perfect sense. There can be no life without water. However, like every other human right, it seems, the Palestinians are denied this one too.

There is a water crisis affecting the whole world, and it is most pronounced in the Middle East. Climate change-linked droughts, unpredictable rainfall, lack of centralised planning, military conflicts and more have resulted in unprecedented water insecurity.

‘Prisoners are heroes’: Being a Palestinian prisoner in Israel

The situation is even more complicated in Palestine, though, where the water crisis is related directly to the more general political context of Israel’s occupation: apartheid, illegal Jewish settlements, siege and war. While much attention has rightly been given to the military aspect of the Israeli occupation, the state’s colonial policies involving water receive far less attention, but they are a pressing and critical problem.

Ashraf Amra Indeed, total water control was one of the first policies enacted by Israel after the establishment of the military regime following the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June 1967. Israel’s discriminatory policies – its uses and abuses of Palestinian water resources – can be described as “water apartheid”.

Gaza is in urgent need for affordable water supplies to keep up with the need of its 1.8 million inhabitants, many of whom live in poverty [file photo]

Gaza is in urgent need for affordable water supplies to keep up with........

© Middle East Monitor