So, what’s the problem?
Well, according to many water crises related NGOs like Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME) and Amnesty International, tackling the urgent water, economic, and energy problems in the Middle East involve negotiating with the central governments of all of the nations affected. That means Hamas and the Israeli government have to work together.
For the time being, Israel sells an average of 4.7 million cubic meters of water to Gaza. However, in order to satisfy most of the population, this number needs to double. Despite the recent construction of the Israeli pipeline connection, no water has yet flowed into Gaza. In addition to the water problem, fuel and electricity for the water treatment plant in Gaza is presently inadequate. Most of the natural water supply in Gaza is no longer potable and is very polluted. According to the UN, Gaza’s major water resource, the underlying Coastal Aquifer is in a state of extreme overuse—with water extraction rates three times renewable supply (UN 2013). Basically what that means is seawater is infiltrating the groundwater and wells, thus making the drinking water…well, undrinkable.
Both of these necessities, water and fuel for sanitation, require the negotiation if not a mutual agreement of both the government of Israel and Hamas. This crisis is not just one that is affecting the Palestinian people; therefore, this mutual concern should help motivate positive, productive, and progressive deliberations between both governments.
Why don’t they (Palestinian and Israeli leaders) just work together to fix the problem?
For the past seven years, over 12,500 rockets and homemade bombs have been shot into Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Needless to say, the Israelis are not very happy. However, many NGOs like FOEME argue that the environmental crisis in Gaza is contrary to Israeli interests, and I have to say that I agree with them. It is in Israel’s self-interest to intervene in the water crisis, for it directly affects Israel’s own environment, public health and national security interests.
Over 90,000 cubic meters of sewage from the Gaza Strip flow into the Mediterranean Sea every day (UN 2013). The Ashkelon beaches, where Israel desalinates water for domestic use, is only a few kilometers from where the sewage flows and therefore poses a direct threat to communities on both sides of the Gaza fence.
With the rapid proliferation of Ebola happening in the world today, fear of pandemic disease is becoming ingrained in society. That being said, it is expected that all measures to avoid pandemics would be taken in situations where the risk is possible. The water crisis in Palestine, Israel, and Egypt is one state of affairs that seems to require an urgent response, for the possibility of an outbreak of pandemic disease is likely.