oPt

In focus: the effects of Israel’s military offensive on access to clean and safe drinking water in the Gaza Strip

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Access to clean and drinkable water is an essential component for the realization of all human rights. Yet, Israel's May 2021 military offensive targeted, damaged, and destroyed water well systems, water networks and municipal facilities in the Strip, causing a devastating collapse of municipal services, notably municipal water supply. As a consequence, more than two million Palestinians in Gaza were left unable to enjoy their human right to water²a prerequisite for the realization of other rights, such as the rights to an adequate standard of living and health, and indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.

In principle, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population are civilian objects and may not be attacked as such, and yet, it has become a recurrent practice by the Israeli military to target and destroy key vital infrastructure in Gaza, including of the WASH sector. A component of these strikes entails the destruction n of vital paved roads, which in addition to preventing the movement of vehicles, including ambulances, in the affected areas and causing extensive emotional and psychological stress from the high-intensity attacks, also critically undermines residents' ability to obtain desalinated water from water trucks, once tap water has been cut off.