Israel to double supply of water to Gaza

With Gaza’s residents in need of fresh water, Israel announced that it will double the amount of water it supplies to the Strip.

A Palestinian girl fills a bottle with fresh water. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ FLASH90)

A Palestinian girl fills a bottle with fresh water. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ FLASH90)

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), announced last week that the amount of water Israel sells to Gaza will be doubled from 5 million cubic meters annually to 10 million. The extra quantities are expected to begin flowing this week, a COGAT spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post.

The additional water will ensure that residents of Gaza have adequate drinking water while protecting the coastal aquifer from further degradation.

Gaza’s 1.8 million residents rely on the coastal aquifer for fresh water, but it cannot supply all their needs, thus creating a situation that causes water from the Mediterranean to seep in. As a result, the salinity of water from the aquifer is higher than that considered safe for drinking. Estimates by the European Union are that 90% of water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption.

Efforts to provide more water to Gaza have been stymied by the bureaucracy surrounding the peace process. Although the Water Authority has already had the necessary infrastructure in place for several years, the construction necessary to provide the water requires the approval of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, which has not met since 2010.

At the same time, the EU and UNICEF are building a water desalination plant in Gaza to supply enough water for 75,000 people.

Maj. Gen. Mordechai told Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds that he hopes Hamas “does not steal water from civilians as it steals construction material for rebuilding homes in the Strip.”

(With files from The Jerusalem Post)