Dubai: "Water is life; without water we can't live; not us, not the animals, or the plants. Before we had some water, but after the army destroyed everything we have to bring water from far away; it's very difficult and expensive. They make our life very difficult, to make us leave."
These words of Fatima Al Nawajah, a resident of the West Bank, though seem to state the obvious, reflect one of the agonising aspects of the daily Palestinian way of living.
Furthermore, the suffering is not only in Fatima's village — Susya in the southern Hebron Hills in the West Bank — but in the vast majority of the Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a report by Amnesty International said.
"The [Israeli] soldiers first destroyed our homes and the shelters with our flocks, uprooted all our trees, and then they wrecked our water cisterns. These were old water cisterns, from the time of our ancestors. Isn't this a crime?" Fatima asked in her statement, which was included in the report.
Titled Thirsting For Justice — Palestinian Access To Water Restricted, Amnesty International's 112-page report looks at how Israeli water policies have resulted in violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to water, food, health, work and adequate housing for the Palestinian population.
"Palestinian water consumption barely reaches 70 litres a day per person — well below the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommended daily minimum of 100 litres per capita. By contrast, Israel's [daily per capita] consumption is four times as much," the report said.
The "inequality" is even more pronounced between the Palestinian communities and "unlawful" Israeli colonies, the report added.
Swimming pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms in Israeli colonies in the West Bank contrast with nearby Palestinian areas.
"In parts of the West Bank, Israeli colonists use up to 20 times more water per capita than neighbouring Palestinian communities, who survive on barely 20 litres of water per capita a day — the minimum amount recommended by the WHO for emergency situations response," the report added.
Sharing water resources was listed on the final status talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, as agreed in Oslo Accords signed in 1993. Other issues include the future of Occupied Jerusalem, fate of refugees and borders.
However, the absence of any sign of revival of the troubled peace talks, Palestinians' limited access to water has become a pressing issue more than any time before, said Donatella Rovera, researcher on Israel and the Occupied Territories at Amnesty International.