Thirsting for Justice: Israeli violations of the human right to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has long been recognized as the root cause of the violation of Palestinians’ civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Many of these violations, as well as Israel’s illegal occupation, have been condemned by the UN system. However, the matrix of Israeli policies and practices which have resulted in the degradation of the Palestinian environment and natural resources, and the implications for Palestinians’ right to water, are less well-documented. The purpose of this report is to expose the ways in which Israel has taken complete control of shared Palestinian-Israeli water sources, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, and has continued to limit availability, destroy accessibility and degrade the quality of the already inadequate amount of water that is available to Palestinian households, especially during the current intifada.
The human right to water is a recognized component of international human rights law.
In November 2002, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights released its General Comment #15, in which it reaffirmed that “[t]he human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.” In addition, the right to water is a fundamental component of the right to health (Article 12 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and the right to life as set forth in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (cf. General Comment No.6 of HRC paragraph 5). The right to water is also protected in international humanitarian and customary water law. Israel, through a range of policies and practices, violates all the substantive aspects of the right to water as recognized in international law, particularly accessibility, availability, and quality, as set forth in General Comment #15.