Local experts and NGOs' representatives have alerted on Tuesday, the continuing and worsening water crisis in Palestine generally and in Gaza Strip particularly; and have warned from possible outcomes that would affect all aspects of residents' life, and that requires a plan of national approach to deal with possible consequences
PNGO had organized a "Water Crisis in Palestine" discussion, to address the continuing water crisis and its repercussions, suggesting a national strategy attempts to solve the matter.
During the panel discussion; which was held in the network’s meeting hall and attended by NGOs representatives, experts and journalists, the Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group for Water and Environmental Resources Development, Abdel Rahman Tamimi spoke via a video conference.
Tamimi stressed that the Israeli occupation is responsible for the water crisis in Palestine, saying, ‘’ The Israeli occupation and its practices are the first and the main reason behind the crisis, whereas the second reason for the crisis is the Palestinian mismanagement of the available water resources and the poor fairly water distribution in the region.’’
Tamimi warned that Gaza Strip faces an environmental and humanitarian crisis caused of the growing water crisis; a situation which requires finding quick solutions and developing strategies to manage the water and sanitation crisis and meet the population’s needs of water in the present and future.
Amjad Shawa, Director of the Palestinian NGO’s Network (PNGO), shed light on the importance of the panel discussion saying that it coincides with the current water crisis suffered by the Palestinian people particularly in the Gaza Strip.
Shawa stressed the importance of the panel discussion of which time was chosen especially to drill for the water crisis core components and the proposed solutions for the crisis particularly in the Gaza Strip in the light of the UN reports saying that Gaza could soon become uninhabitable due to the many crises faced by its population; particularly the water crisis on the quantitative and qualitative levels.
Shawa said, ‘’ Gaza Strip has been suffering acute shortage of water due to the damage and the destruction sustained by the aquifer as a result of the Israeli occupation practices in addition to the water confiscation and the occupation’s violation of the Palestinian people’s right to access water.’’
He added, ‘’ Water is lifeblood for all living things. Unfortunately, 95% of water pumped in the Gaza Strip is polluted and unfit for drinking, hence, this panel discussion is significant for it addresses Gaza’s critical water crisis in an attempt to find out a possible solution and a way out of this crisis.’’
Tamimi, for his part, stressed that right to access water is one of the Palestinian people’s rights according to the Palestinian law.
According to Tamimi, the Israeli occupation in the last few years has been working to establish 12 desalination water plants of which 4 are already established and other 4 are under construction. Palestinians meanwhile has no serious plans regarding to the water crisis they suffer.
‘’The Israeli occupation annexes and steals the Palestinian water resources and deprives the Palestinian people from their right to water, which worsens water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,’’ said Tamimi.
He added, ‘’ Water can be transferred from one area to another depending on the availability of water, for example, it is possible to transfer water from Tulkarm and Qalqilya where it is available by the large amount to Jenin. It may also be possible to transfer desalinated water from the Gaza Strip after the establishment of water desalination plant to the West Bank as well as supply the population of Gaza Strip and Hebron with desalinated water.’’
Tamimi noted that the large problem lies in digging random water wells by the population. Solving this problem will make it possible transfer water from one area to another and will ease the transformation of water from private to public sector. It will also ease the water supplying to areas that lack of water access like the area of Jordan Valley and the city of Jericho.
He warned off the a possible acute water shortage in the Gaza Strip in few upcoming years due to the decision-makers failure to find radical solution to the water crisis instead of searching for partial solutions.
He said that each of Water Authority, Ministry of Planning, and Ministry of Agriculture used to search for temporary solutions instead of finding durable solutions.
‘’Due the population of the Gaza Strip depends on groundwater as the only resource of water supply, its water demand as well as the amount of waste water produced will increase by 2020 due to the high and speed growth of the population,’’ said Tamimi.
During the conference, Tamimi also spoke about privatization saying, ‘’Palestinians will soon become customers of the Israeli companies that sell water, gas, and electricity the time Israel currently has 12 water desalination plants.’’
Participants of the panel discussion for their parts called to protect the Palestinian people right to water within the international conventions and laws due Gaza Strip and West Bank are areas under occupation.
They reiterated their demand to the Water Authority to adopt a national strategy and exert more efforts to develop the water sector and reduce its problems by using all available means.