Statement of the Geneva Water Hub on the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel
We know the effects will endure long after the dust has settled, and hamper any resolution of the conflict. Heavy artillery blasts knock out water treatment plants or drinking water storage towers, but the more insidious damage is less visible. Cholera and other waterborne disease are likely to spread, as raw sewage and the strains of waterborne disease it carries seeps into the drinking water.
Denying the provision of water or attacking drinking water systems is prohibited by every norm that global civilisation has created to this point. We are witnessing serious violation of the special protection given to objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population that the rules of war (or International Humanitarian Law) call for. These are restated in the UN Security Council Resolution 2573, unanimously adopted in 2021, and progressed through the growing base of legal frameworks dealing with the protection of the environment and freshwater resources and related installations. Each of these instruments are meant to provide greater protection of critical civilian infrastructure, and unimpeded access for repair crews, precisely because the reverberating effects of attacks on water will persist well after the physical violence has ended.
The Geneva Water Hub knows the end of conflict will not come through bombs, but can come through discussion. Keeping water out of harm’s way will mean fewer civilian casualties, so may open the door to that dialogue. Weapons may prevail for the moment, but words will find their place.
These views are solely those of the Geneva Water Hub, which does not claim to represent those of any partners, donors, or affiliates.