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Almost 2 weeks have passed without running water for Jerusalem neighborhoods east of Separation Barrier. ACRI sends urgent letter to Water Minister Silvan Shalom
Since March 4, many thousands of East Jerusalem residents have been left without running water. Water supplies were cut off almost completely in the neighborhoods of Ras Khamis, Ras Shahada, and Schunat Shalom and in the Shuafat Refugee Camp – all areas east of the Separation Barrier. According to residents, water pressure began getting weaker four weeks ago and stopped completely in most of the homes on March 4 – 5. While water services resumed on March 6, this respite turned out to be short lived, as the water ran dry just a few hours later, and is yet to return to normal. Tens of thousands of people are currently being affected.
In an urgent letter to Minster of Energy and Water Silvan Shalom, Ronit Sela, Director of the Human Rights in East Jerusalem project at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), demanded immediate intervention from his office.
The Jerusalem Municipality and Hagihon (Jerusalem’s water utility) are aware of the lack of infrastructure in the affected areas and of the fact that the current infrastructure is insufficient to meet the basic water rights of the number of residents living there. As part of a 2005 government decision about the route of the Separation Barrier, it was resolved that actions to address the lack of infrastructure in the neighborhoods east of the barrier would be taken. However, in the nine years that have passed, there has been almost no progress on this front.
According to Ronit Sela, “the fact that tens of thousands of people – among them babies, children, women and people with illnesses – were left without water for days is an especially dismal pinnacle of the city’s ongoing neglect of the areas of Jerusalem cut off by the separation barrier, whose residents are still in need of basic municipal services. Intervention is urgently needed to solve the current crisis, and additionally to create a long-term solution for the regular supply of water in the area.”