Citizens interviewed by Palestine News Network have expressed their discontent with the lack of water in their homes and emphasize how difficult life without running water is. The amount of water pumped to Bethlehem is simply insufficient, and in addition to these, more than 40% of the water is lost en route.
According to many, the question of water has grown increasingly political as they allege that Israel has stolen more than 85% of Palestine’s water sources in the building of settlements. More problematic, however, is poor internal management, poor distribution, and a high percentage of wasted water lost between thefts and issues with the water network itself. It is an issue that has needed to be addressed for years, and each summer the crisis returns with no new resolution ready to meet it.
In interviewing residents in Bethlehem’s neighborhoods, refugee camps, and villages, PNN reporters have brought to light the especially severe nature of this year’s water crisis. Mahdi Omar, resident of the Aida refugee camp, said that though the residents of the camp have suffered from this crisis year in and year out, “it looks like this summer we will suffer terribly,” adding that his home has had no running water since mid-May.
Resident Zarina Umm Mohamed added that her family frequently finds itself depending on bottled water, saying that she cannot cook, wash her sons, or clean her house.
Yasser Asakereh, a restaurant owner in Bethlehem, said that he has lost customers because he cannot offer complimentary “coffee or tea or water or anything,” and that he cannot even guarantee that a patron will be able to wash his hands in his restaurant.
A lack of sufficient water supplies is felt by all in the provinces of the West Bank, but authorities argue that it hits Bethlehem especially hard due to the high number of tourists who arrive during the summer months to visit Christian holy sites.