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Israeli report warns of ‘environmental implications’ of Gaza crisis

Israelis complain that sewage from the Gaza Strip is polluting their water. Photo of the sewage problem in Gaza.
Israelis complain that sewage from the Gaza Strip is polluting their water. Photo of the sewage problem in Gaza.

A report prepared by Israeli experts has warned that “the collapsing water, sewage and electricity infrastructure in the Gaza Strip pose material danger to Israel’s groundwater, seawater, beaches and desalination plants”, reported Haaretz.

The study was prepared by scholars from Ben-Gurion University and Tel Aviv University for the environmental organisation EcoPeace Middle East, and was presented Monday at the annual Conference of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians and Schools of Public Health.

One upshot of the reduced electricity supply to the blockaded territory “is that sewage plants aren’t operational and thus 70 percent of Gaza’s untreated sewage goes straight into the sea”.

READ: US study examines Israel’s ‘targeting’ of Palestinian agricultural, water and energy infrastructures

In addition, “Gaza is also over utilising its aquifers and consequently, most of the underground water is already contaminated. By next year zero percent of the Gazan groundwater will be fit for human use, according to standards of the World Health Organisation”, Haaretz added.

The report authors say “sewage dumping already caused Israel’s desalination plant in Ashkelon to shut down three years ago”, while “dumping in Gaza can increase bacterial concentrations as far north as Ashdod”. In addition, “sewage contamination also endangers an important source of groundwater for Israel southeast of Ashkelon”.

According to Haaretz, “Israel, until now, had been able to mitigate the effect of the environmental pollution from Gaza on Israel itself, by monitoring the quality of the seawater and closing down the Ashdod desalination plant if necessary”.

However, “the more the population in Gaza grows, and with it, the quantity of sewage, the greater the danger that sustained damage will be caused to the beaches and the groundwater in Israel”.

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