Choose a news category:

Fact Sheet: The Water Crisis in Gaza

Posted on: Monday, July 26, 2010

Keywords: Palestine, Israel, Middle East, Gaza, Water Rights, Economic Justice, Environmental Justice

The Water Crisis in Gaza

Since 1967, the Gaza Strip has been under Israeli military occupation. As a result, Palestinians in Gaza have endured many harmful policies, including the denial of their rightful share of water and restrictions on developing water systems. The only public fresh water source for the 1.5 million people living in Gaza is the Coastal Aquifer, which is shared with Israel. However, just 12 percent is used in Gaza. The rest is claimed by Israel, where people’s consumption of water is more than double that of Gaza.

The shortage of clean water in Gaza has reached crisis levels. The World Health Organization estimates that less than 10 percent of publicly available water is safe to drink. The rest is contaminated with microorganisms and toxins that endanger people’s lives and cause needless sickness and suffering, especially to babies and children.

Health Consequences of Gaza’s declining supply of safe water

The Impact of Economic Blockade and War 

Since June 2007, the Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade, which has greatly exacerbated the water crisis. The blockade has reduced supplies of fuel needed to power water treatment plants and disrupted access to spare parts, cement and other materials needed to fortify the water infrastructure.

Israel has characterized the blockade as a security measure intended to stop rockets from being fired into Israel from Gaza. In fact, Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens from such attacks, which are a grave violation of international law. As MADRE recently argued before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Israel also has an obligation to uphold human rights in Gaza, which remains under Israeli occupation despite the withdrawal of Israeli troops in 2005.

In late 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on Gaza, killing 1300 people and severely damaging the area’s rudimentary water infrastructure. Over 30 kilometers of water networks, wells and water tanks were damaged or destroyed.  Since then, the US-supported economic blockade has prevented Palestinians from rebuilding the water system because raw materials and replacement parts cannot be imported. 

As a result:

A Matter of Human Rights

By denying civilians access to water, Israel’s blockade of Gaza violates international law. As the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has said, “States…should refrain at all times from imposing embargoes or similar measures that prevent the supply of water, as well as goods and services essential for securing the right to water. Water should never be used as an instrument of political or economic pressure.”

And yet that is exactly how Israel is using water in Gaza. As the Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, discovered earlier this year, the Israeli government describes the blockade as “economic warfare” against the Hamas government in Gaza

MADRE calls for an end to the blockade of Gaza and for the universal access to safe water as a fundamental human right.

MADRE’s Clean Water for Gaza Project

Working with our sister organization, the Zakher Association for the Development of Palestinian Women’s Capacity, MADRE is installing 25 large water filters in the five communities of Gaza City with the worst water and highest rates of contamination. Each filter can service approximately 350 families with children. We are also installing smaller water filters in 10 kindergartens, each one serving an average of 150 girls and boys between four and five years old.

« Back to "Press Room" Next Article »

Article Tools
Increase Font Decrease Font Reset Font Print Page Email Page


"Press Room" Home November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001


Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444

To sign up to receive MADRE media alerts, click here.

Bring MADRE to You

MADRE & Our Partners Make News