News Feature | March 27, 2015

Israel To Double Water Output To Gaza Strip

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

In the dicey world of water politics, unusual allegiances sometimes crop up. Just this month, Israeli leaders indicated that they have plans to increase the amount of water they send to the Gaza Strip.

Israel plans to double the amount of water it provides to the region, despite warring with Hamas rulers in the territory last summer, the Associated Press reported this month.

"Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the commander of Cogat, the defense agency that deals with Gazan civilian affairs, said in published remarks that Israel would increase water supplies from 1.3 billion to 2.6 billion gallons per year to relieve what he called a 'severe water problem because of excessive overuse of groundwater resources,'" the report said.

Gaza regularly experiences water shortages. "We are facing a crisis. If we do not address it now, then Gaza will become unlivable," said Shaddad Attili, minister and head of the Palestinian water authority, earlier this year, per the Guardian.

The added supply from Israel will help, but it will not solve the problem. "The water, if delivered, represents just a fraction of Gaza’s water needs. But the water would provide some relief because it is of drinking quality and does not have to be treated," the AP report said.

Despite the plans, there remains a level of suspicion between the parties. "Mordechai said he hopes Hamas 'would not steal water from civilians as they steal construction materials intended for the reconstruction of houses,'” the AP report said.

Israel has attacked its own water troubles by diving headfirst into the desalination market. Since 2005, Israel has built and begun operation of four facilities. A fifth will begin service this year. Around 80 percent of water used in homes in Israel is produced by desalination, McClatchy reported.