search

Israel to double water delivery to Gaza

‘We hope Hamas won’t steal the water as it stole the building materials,’ army administrator says

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

A Palestinian child fills plastic bottles and jerrycans with drinking water from a public tap at the UNRWA headquarters in the southern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Rafah, January 28, 2013 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A Palestinian child fills plastic bottles and jerrycans with drinking water from a public tap at the UNRWA headquarters in the southern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Rafah, January 28, 2013 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel will double the annual quantity of water provided to the Gaza Strip in a bid to avert a water crisis in the heavily populated Palestinian territory, an Israeli army official announced on Wednesday.

Major General Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, told Palestinian daily al-Quds that Israel has decided to increase the quantity of water supplied to Gaza from 5 to 10 million cubic meters a year following a meeting of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee.

According to a recent report by Israeli human rights watchdog B’Tselem, over 90 percent of Gaza’s drinking water has been rendered nonpotable due to over-pumping of the coastal aquifer. Approximately 180 million cubic meters are pumped from the aquifer annually, while its replenishment rate is just 50-60 million cubic meters a year.

“I hope that Gaza’s water authority will be able to provide citizens with water equitably and prevent its theft, like that of the building materials [that were delivered to Gaza], or its transfer to Hamas,” Mordechai told al-Quds.

IDF Spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai delivers a message for Ramadan, July 10, 2013. (screen capture: YouTube/IDFSpox1)
COGAT chief Yoav Mordechai, July 10, 2013 (screen capture: YouTube/IDFSpox1)

The Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee was created in September 1995 as part of the Oslo Accords to oversee water resources and sewage treatment in the West Bank.

Gisha, an Israeli rights group focusing on the Gaza Strip, said that the 5 million cubic meters of water currently purchased from Israel constitute just 5% of the total amount of water consumed in the territory. The Palestinian Authority pays Israel some 12 million shekels ($3 million) a year for the water, deducted from tax revenues collected by Israel.

A spokeswoman for the organization told The Times of Israel that under the Oslo Accords, Israel had committed to providing Gaza with 10 million cubic meters of water annually, but has postponed the implementation of the agreement repeatedly, even though the infrastructure has been in place for many years.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry mistakenly claimed last August that Israel is already providing the Palestinians with 10 million cubic meters of water.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed