Report: Israel Building New Water System for Gaza

A view of the Sapir Station of the Israeli Mekorot National Water company, near the Kinneret. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

The Mekorot Water Company, in coordination with the Water Authority, is building a new water transfer system for Gaza, it was revealed Monday. Yediot Acharonot said that work was to begin this week on the project, which will significantly improve the flow and quality of water to Gaza. When completed, the new pipe will connect between the Israeli and Gaza water systems, with Mekorot releasing water to Gaza authorities for distribution to residents. The project will cost “several million shekels,” the report said.

Not included in that cost is the heavy security Israel is deploying to protect the project, deemed necessary by security officials, even though the project will benefit Gazans. The report quoted Mekorot officials as saying that the project was being carried out without any connection to the security situation, as it was necessary to ensure the future of the water economy of Israel and Gaza.

Israel currently supplies water to Gaza via three pipes. Prior agreements between Israel and Hamas require supplying Gaza with 10 million cubic meters of water; Israel actually sends about 11.5 million.

In the recent talks on understandings between Israel and Hamas in the wake of the recent rocket attacks on southern Israel, it was decided that Israel would help upgrade the Gaza water system, which Israeli officials said was “near collapse.” The dispatching of water in a more efficient manner, Mekorot officials said, will alleviate the need for Gazans to drill further down into the Gaza aquifer, which is very low and is in danger of filling up with sea water – something that would be devastating to Gaza agriculture.

Also on the agenda is upgrading the Gaza sewage system, which is old and dysfunctional. Much of Gaza’s sewage is dumped directly into the Mediterranean, or into streams that end up inside Israel.

“Water is a basic commodity, and there is a large population in Gaza that is not seeking war with Israel, but just wants to live its life in peace,” the report quoted a Mekorot official as saying. “Unfortunately these people are controlled by Hamas. Most Gazans are thirsty not just for water but for a normal life. Despite everything, they are our neighbors and we cannot ignore their needs.”