Key Documents on Water Justice in Palestine

Reports & Studies

The Ma’an Development Center in Ramallah has produced several important reports on settlements and water, which are both detailed and exceptionally rich in visual material.  Among them are:

Cultivating Dispossession: Israeli Settlements in the Jordan Valley. This report gives information about the 31 settlements and 7 outposts in the Jordan Valley, all of the agriculturally based, and the amount of water each one uses.

Destructive Environmentalism: the impact of the proposed environmental initiatives regarding the Dead Sea (2011). This report focuses on the unsustainable water policies that have drastically reduced the Dead Sea and Jordan River over the last 40 years, and Israel’s plan to channel water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea which could cause serious environmental problems.

Parallel Realities: Israeli Settlement and Palestinian Communities in the Jordan Valley (2012). It includes extensive information about access to water in the Jordan Valley, and a case study of the fight over water in Ras al-Auja and Yitav.

Restricted Access and Its Consequences: Israeli Control of Vital Resources in the Jordan Valley and Its Impact on the Environment (2011) takes an in depth look at Israel’s water policies in the Jordan Valley – which has been effectively severed from the rest of the West Bank – and threats to the viability of the Mountain Aquifer. The report also focuses on the environmental degradation of the Jordan Valley and the impact of Israeli policies on Palestinians. 

Uprooted livelihoods: Palestinian Villages and Herding Communities in the Jordan Valley is a companion report to 'Cultivating Dispossession,’ describing conditions facing 58,000 Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley – city dwellers, farmers, and herders. It details restrictions on the availability of water and the costs they must pay to purchase water.

Water Restrictions is a 2-page factsheet showing the impact of Israel’s discriminatory water policies by 2011.

A Confluence of Crisis: On Water, Climate and Security in the Middle East and North Africa
In an attempt to understand the complexity of conflicts in the Middle East, Hiltermann identified five clusters: Arab order/disorder, originating in the dysfunctional post-World War I state system; the Israeli–Arab conflict; Sunni–Shiite tensions, triggered by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran; Sunni radicalization; and the 2011 uprisings and their aftermath. Here is an overview summary of this twenty page report. July 2019

Al Shabaka has published a briefing paper by its US Policy Fellow, Zena Agha, Climate Change, the Occupation, and Vulnerable Palestine (March 2019).  The report gives an overview of what climate change will mean for Palestine, including its impact on the already precarious water situation. 

Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) produced this position paper, Water resource allocations in the occupied Palestinian territory: Responding to Israeli claims. It addresses the injustice of water resource allocation, access and consumption in the occupied Palestinian territory.

B'Tselem (2017). Made in Israel - Exploiting Palestinian Land for Treatment of Israeli Waste.

BDS for Palestinian Water Justice (PDF) describes the international laws regarding the role of occupier in providing for the occupied—including water rights—and how they are disregarded and violated by Israel. The article also discusses the extreme hardship of those living in the Gaza Strip who don’t have potable water.

EcoPeace Middle East is a trilateral (Israel, Jordan, Palestinians) ‘environmental peacemaking’ organisation with offices in Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Amman.  It has written or contributed to several briefing papers and reports about the Palestinian and region-wide water crisis, with a special emphasis on Gaza: see list here.

The Environmental Impact of Israeli Settlements on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This Middle East Monitor Fact Sheet (2012) covers Israel’s “systemic policy for the destruction of the Palestinian environment.”

EU (The Office of the European Union Representative - West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA) (2018). Six-Month Report on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Eyewitness Palestine: Moving to the Brink. This illustrated talk by Nancy and Hubert Murray gives an overview of what they encountered during their journey to East Jerusalem and the West Bank in November 2018.  Although the big picture described here is bleak, many of the people they met have kept hope alive in a variety of inspiring ways.

Impacts of Intermittent Water Supply on Water Quality in Two Palestinian Refugee Camps, by Shatha Alazzeh, Stephanie Galaitsi, Amahl Bishara, Nidal Al-Azraq and John Durant, in Water, an Open Access Journal from MDPI (March 2019).  This scientific study of the quality of water represents a collaboration of refugee camp personnel and water experts from Tufts University.  In addition to an analysis of their findings, it contains an extensive bibliography. 

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued a two-page report comprised of charts and graphs entitled Gaza Strip: Early Warning Indicators-October 2018

Other reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):

OCHA (The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2017). 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview – Occupied Palestinian Territory.

OCHA (The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Gaza energy crisis: limited improvement in water and sanitation indicators; concerns over waterborne diseases remain.

Palestinian Hydrology Group created a PowerPoint to examine water issues in the region and to focus on the Israeli impact on Palestinians' need and access to clean water. 

Rand Corporation's 2018 Report: Gaza's Water and Sanitation Crisis is a comprehensive look at the crisis, particularly chemical and biological contamination and how this catastrophe could also impact Egypt and Israel. The article suggests steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a significant public health disaster.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (March, 2019) This comprehensive U.N. Report examines the human rights situation in occupied Palestine, with particular emphasis on access to natural resources and environmental degradation. It blasts Israel's water policies.

Thirsting for Justice shows how the arrangement written in the Oslo Peace Accords 20 years ago continues to allow Israel control over water distribution for Palestinians. Many European Union efforts to increase access to water for Palestinians have been demolished as Israel continues to sabotage water and waste projects. 

UNCTAD Assistance to the Palestinian People: Developments in the Economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 2019 The Palestinian people are denied the right to exploit oil and natural gas resources and thereby deprived of billions of dollars in revenue.

This UNICEF article (PDF) addresses inequitable access to water in the West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip’s water supply, which is unfit for human consumption due to sewage, agricultural infiltration, and salt-water intrusion from the sea.

UN Resolution adopted by General Assembly on 28 July 2010. The human right to water and sanitation. In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly (Resolution 64/292) explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

WAFA (Palestinian News & Info Agency) (2018). Officials: Sewage waste from Israeli settlements destroys Palestinian environment, crops.

Water for One People Only (PDF) provides data regarding the violation of Palestinian water rights, the history and legal analysis of the exploitation of Palestinians’ need for water and the impact of the Occupation on quality of life. 

Water in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (PDF) A January 2016 report from the European Parliamentary Research Service. 

Water Resource Allocations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Responding to Israeli claims (PDF). The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem answers Israel’s claims that it is fulfilling all its obligations under the Oslo Process, and that the Palestinians are to blame for the water shortages they experience.

Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program at Tufts University report-back (PDF). The Lajee Center and 1for3, two nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, invited a group of five graduate students from the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program at Tufts University to help assess water quality in al Azza refugee camp in March 2016. Al Azza camp, like most communities in the West Bank and Gaza, faces regular water shortages due in part to underinvestment in the water sector, deteriorating water infrastructure, and inequitable distribution of water resources between Israel and Palestine. 

Articles & Leaflets

Water Inequality Leaflet (PDF) from the Alliance for Water Justice.

Israel: Water as a tool to dominate Palestinians. Good summary article about Israel’s use of water as a weapon.

“‘Diseased water’: Gazans go thirsty as sewage and pollution poison wells”

Water pollution reaches catastrophic levels in the Gaza Strip. “Frequent power cuts in Gaza have made it impossible to provide homes with running water all day. With summer approaching, moreover, Gaza is threatened with a water scarcity crisis that has been compounded by successive Israeli military assaults and a nearly 10-year-old blockade.”

Water Consumption. Israeli Settlers vs. Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: A telling graphic—and this was before the 2014 assault on Gaza.

This Electronic Intifada article highlights similarities between Flint, Detroit, and Gaza. It addresses the structural violence that has created the inequities and denial of basic human rights, with a focus on the role of water.

This article in CounterPunch cites the unheeded disastrous conditions of climate change by major world powers that have contributed to the ongoing destruction of water access for Palestinians.

According to this Inter Press Service article, “…the world may face a 40 percent shortfall in water availability by 2030.…despite improvements, at least 663 million still do not have access to safe drinking water. And projecting into the future, the United Nations says an estimated 1.8 billion people—out of a total world population of over 7 billion—will live in countries or regions with water scarcities.”

“Israel Controls More than 85% of the Land of Historical Palestine.” An unbelievably thorough yet succinct overview of Palestinian life.