Our friend Gidon Bromberg at EcoPeace Middle East, an environmental partnership of peace-seeking Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians, sent us this statement about a new UN report (embedded at bottom) that Gaza’s sewage and water situation is headed for humanitarian disaster in under five years.
Response of EcoPeace Middle East:
Catastrophic Scenarios for Israel and Egypt: 1.8 Million Possible Refugees with no Water will Move towards the Border Fences.
Will the scenes of Syrian refugees in Budapest and Calais be replicated with Gazans marching towards Tel Aviv?
EcoPeace Middle East, a regional environmental NGO run by Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians together, calls on the Government of Israel and the International Community to act urgently to avoid the humanitarian disaster facing Gaza with inevitable consequences for the region.
A new UN report warns that if current socioeconomic trends continue, Gaza will become uninhabitable in less than 5 years. One of the key issues according to the report is water and sanitation. The UN already established in 2012 that Gaza’s main source of potable water, the Coastal Aquifer, will be unfit for human use by 2016 due to rising salinity levels that are the result of over-extraction. Furthermore, severe electricity shortage, both prior to the last war in 2014 and much more so in its aftermath, impedes the work of wastewater treatment and brackish water desalination facilities. The lack of sanitation solutions in particular threatens public health both in Gaza and in Israel, increasing the chances of epidemics such as cholera and typhoid that if erupt in Gaza will not stop at the border.
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Co-Director, EcoPeace Middle East said: “The writing is on the wall. If Gaza’s water economy is allowed to collapse, tens of thousands of Gazans will start walking towards the border fences of Israel and Egypt. What will the Israeli or Egyptian military do? Would they dare shoot at civilians desperate for drinking water? As we see daily in Budapest and Calais desperate people will stop at nothing to try to save themselves and their families.”
Israel is in fact already affected by the lack of proper water and sanitation infrastructure in Gaza. 90,000 CM of sewage makes its way to the Mediterranean from Gaza every day, carried by the natural currents towards Ashkelon beach, where Israel desalinates water for domestic use. Israel has a vested interest in alleviating the water shortage in the Strip by further increasing the water currently supplied to Gaza, as well as providing electricity for sanitation solutions.
Bromberg added: “Urgent Israeli action needed will allow the Palestinians and the international donor community more time to secure electricity sources and funding for longer term solutions, mainly large scale desalination and waste water treatment. EcoPeace calls on the Government of Israel and the International Community to facilitate once again the doubling of water sold by Israel to Gaza from 10 MCM to 20 MCM – the overall capacity of the existing infrastructure, and provide the missing 3 MW of electricity to the Northern Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment facility recently completed but inoperable due to lack of sufficient energy”.