Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory face severe restrictions in accessing adequate water and sanitation. While the Palestinian authorities, with support from donors and EWASH agencies, have been working to improve Palestinian access to safe and adequate water and sanitation services, Israeli policies and practices have hindered both the development of the WASH sector, geared towards long-term sustainability, and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
EWASH agencies are therefore operating "under the bottom line", unable to either support longterm sustainability in the WASH sector through developmental approaches or to effectively deliver basic services to the most vulnerable. Restrictions that have hindered the ability of EWASH agencies to respond to the identified WASH needs of Palestinian communities are summarized as follows:
1. Protracted administrative and bureaucratic requirements as precondition to project implementation in some of the most vulnerable and marginalized areas
2. Damage or destruction of WASH infrastructure vital for civilian life
3. The blockade and associated policies applied to the Gaza Strip
4. Movement and access restrictions on aid personnel Donors have supported Palestinian efforts to develop the water and sanitation sector. However restrictions put in place by the government of Israel have reduced the effectiveness of these efforts. EWASH agencies therefore call for reflection on the current approach and policy change. In particular EWASH recommends that donor governments:
• Provide vigorous diplomatic support to ensure unhindered implementation of interventions in communities located in Area C of the West Bank and take active measures to prevent destruction of donorfunded infrastructure after the project has ended.
• Accept financial and political risk associated with property/project destruction. Donor best practice should include systematically recording all damage and requesting compensation from the government of Israel on projects that are delayed or destroyed.
• Support transition from humanitarian to development aid in appropriate areas in Area C as well as other areas of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Aid should be delivered in a manner that is appropriate to needs irrespective of separate geographical and administrative boundaries defined in the Oslo Accords.
• Review donor engagement with Israeli permit and planning regime, including those instituted as part of the blockade, based on the humanitarian imperative and international humanitarian law. The diplomatic community should avoid legitimizing illegal policies or practices.
• Support should be provided for the WASH sector national plan, which includes Area C, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip and to promote Palestinian national ownership and accountability in planning and delivery of WASH services.
• Support legal proceedings for water and sanitation infrastructure threatened by demolitions and stop work orders.
• Emphasize the Government of Israel's obligations as an Occupying Power in interaction and correspondence with Israeli officials and in public statements where applicable and advance measures of accountability for Israeli violations of international law through existing mechanisms of international diplomacy and legal avenues.
• Protect aid workers from undue restrictions on movement and access to allow for effective delivery of aid to vulnerable populations.
To read the full report by the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory from March 2012, click here: "DOWN THE DRAIN", Israeli restrictions on the WASH sector in Occupied Palestinian Territory and their impact on vulnerable communities