Study and Information Program

Gaza on the Edge

How Gaza Water Affects Israel

The Gaza on the Edge demonstrated the trans-boundary implications of the Gaza water and energy crisis on Israel, proving that nature does not adhere to political boundaries.


Starting only a couple of kilometers away from Gaza at Zikim Beach, which has been closed on numerous occasions due to the upward sewage flow from the Gaza Strip, continuing to the Wadi Hanoun at the Erez Checkpoint that has experienced sewage overflows from Gaza, the participants understood the proximal distances marking these boundaries. The participants had the opportunity to listen to Professor Shaul Mishal speaking about Gaza. The tour concluded with a meeting with Yair Farjun, the mayor of Hoh Ashkelon, where participants were walked through the transboundary intricacies faced by these communities, urging the Israeli government and the donors community to take action to solve the energy, water, and sanitation crisis in Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is facing a dire humanitarian crisis with potentially devastating implications. Lack of clean water for domestic use and unsafe sanitary conditions pose a serious public health threat to the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, and the neighboring communities in Egypt and Israel.

A UN report deemed the issues of water and sanitation in Gaza as problems of primary concern, and concluded that by 2020 the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable.1 This has alarming implications not only for the Palestinian population of Gaza but also for the whole region, as recognized even by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in a June 2016 press statement: “When there is not enough water in Gaza, and Gaza is in the process of gradually drying up, the aquifers become polluted and when the aquifers become polluted, this is not limited to the Gaza side of the aquifer. Therefore, it is in Israel's clear interest to deal with the water problem in the Gaza Strip. When there is not enough electricity, various problems arise, including those having to do with sanitation, and when there are outbreaks (of pandemic disease), the outbreaks do not stop at the fences. This is both a humanitarian interest and an outstanding Israeli interest.

The current humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a product of a number of interconnected factors, including failed governance of the Hamas leadership and its unresolved reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority (PA), the severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli siege, and Gaza's over-dependence on the donor community. Even in the midst of the most recent round of protests and violence associated with the so called ‘March of Return’, media attention has continued to focus on the underlying humanitarian issues. While all sides issue alarming reports, warning of the necessity to take immediate actions, a sense of urgency is missing and the required actions are hindered by the current political circumstances, cross border and internal Palestinian. If the situation is not urgently addressed, it could have devastating consequences on regional stability, including the outbreak of pandemic disease and new rounds of hostilities.


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