Israel water supply West Bank
A Palestinian man pulls his donkey loaded with empty bottles and a jerrycan, as he makes his way to fill them with drinking water Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters file photo

Israel is reported to have cut the water supply to the West Bank during Ramadan, in a move often dubbed "water apartheid" by critics of Israel. The state-run Israeli water company, Mekorot, shut the valves of the lines leading to areas in the West Bank, reports have stated on Wednesday 15 June.

Israel's step is likely to leave tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the volatile region without water for safe consumption. Israel has sanctioned water available to Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ever since Israel's occupation of the areas, which started in 1967.

"People are relying on purchasing water from trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity. Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litres per capita per day," Ayman Rabi, chief of Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera, before adding that some villages have not received water for more than a month.

Taps began to run dry from the beginning of Ramadan, a month considered holy by Muslims, which started on 6 June in most Islamic nations. Residents in the entire administration of Jenin, villages in Nablus and many towns in the neighbouring region are thought to have been denied a water supply for the past week.

"Residents suffer badly in this hot weather and at this time of Ramadan. Israel and Israel only is responsible for the water cuts, as agreements signed with Israel clearly state that Mekorot should provide the northern areas of the West Bank with their needs of water," Ragheb al Haj Hassan, mayor of Jenin, which has a population of about 40,000 people, was quoted as saying by the Gulf News. There was no prior warning issued by the Israel national water company, Hassan added. Mekorot has not yet released any official statement on the matter.

In the past, Israel had been accused of unleashing "water apartheid" on Palestinians by controlling the allocation of water resources. According to estimates, the Palestinians in the West Bank receive about 60 litres of water supply per person per day, compared to 350 litres of water per person for Israelis in the region.