While we have been very lucky to get water for the run sponsored by local co-op stores, and mostly we have easy access to tap water in our homes, we should not forget that water is a terrifyingly precious resource in Gaza.
Gaza has long suffered severe water problems with its aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater and the territory’s three desalination plants unable to meet demand. To drink, most citizens depend on imported, bottled water. And some travel many miles to fill cans.
The source of the problems are varied but centre on the blockade of Gaza by Israel and destruction of key infrastructure for the safe supply of water and treatment of sewage. Desalination plants are poorly maintained because of difficulties in obtaining spare parts. These factors exacerbate behaviours that will tend to deplete the aquifer that sits under the Gaza and forms the basis of its water supply.
As the aquifer drains, salty sea water seeps in and with it sewage and chemical pollution further degrading the supply.
Meanwhile in the West Bank, in the occupied territories, there are inequalities of water supply that reflect the aggressive approach taken by Israeli colonial settlers and the army that protects them, to dismantling Palestinian civil life.
Water use by colonial settlers is 4 times that of Palestinians in the occupied land reflects the relative poverty of Palestinian people.
Since 1967, Israel has prevented access to the Jordan River supply by Palestinians and supply of water to Palestinians by the Israeli water company, is subject to strict control.
Generally, settlements are built on high land, water is gathered and prevented from reaching into the lower reaches of hills and supplying Palestinian villages. Waste water from settlements is regularly pumped into an already depleted Palestinian supply.
So thank you to the Co-op for supplying our water; and, when we are drinking our water on the way round the park, let’s spare a thought for the difficulties Palestinians have in obtaining it.
Water Situation Alarming in Gaza, World Bank Report, November 22, 2016
And sign up to the run!