ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Water Crisis in Gaza

Water Crisis in Gaza

07 November 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

The Voice of Israel Radio reports clean drinking water is being sold to Palestinian residents in the Gaza Strip at two shekels for 20 liters.  Over the years the aquifer level has receded in the Gaza region due to over pumping causing salinization of sweet waters.  Palestinian water officials claim it is the fault both of Arabs and Jews.  Israeli authorities claim there are 3000 wells serving the Palestinians and 20 serving the Katif Bloc residents, explaining further that one-third of the Palestinian wells are illegal.

Legal or not Gaza’s burgeoning Arab population of 1.1 million needs drinking water and with one of the highest birth rates in the world the situation will only get worse.  Their population has quadrupled since the 1967 Six Day War.

The answer to the problem involves conflict resolution between the two sides alongside economic and water development cooperation.  Israel is planning on building several desalinization plants along the coastal plain.  The Palestinians could do likewise in the Gaza area.

Just as important, the Gaza birth-rate must drop significantly otherwise all development efforts will be outstripped by population growth.  Eighty percent of the population lives under the poverty line and well over half are unemployed (and many women are not counted in this statistic).  But this is a matter of education, much different than the viciously antisemitic educational indoctrination plied by Palestinian leaders.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat has not been in the news recently, but he and the PA are responsible in Gaza.  Instead of planning terror attacks against Israel and blocking reforms in the PA everyone knows he could easily get international and especially European aid for building the desalinization facilities.  Not only would this provide clean drinking water, it would provide jobs.

But it is in Arafat’s ‘best interests’ that the situation worsen.  It will.