Be Felicity Bosk
The Gaza Strip is a 141-square-mile territory of the state of Palestine in the Middle East, nestled between Egypt to its south, Israel to its north and east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Within this area live 1.85 million people. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and today, there is not enough clean water for everybody.
The United Nations News Center reported in 2015 that Gaza could become uninhabitable in less than five years. In 2014, Israel's military operation in Gaza, "Operations Protective Edge,“ resulted in 26 schools destroyed and 122 damaged; Gaza’s sole power plant being damaged; 20–30 percent of the water and sewage network damaged, and the water desalination plant in Deir al-Balah being damaged. This has made an already troublesome situation much worse.
The U.N. reported in 2011 that for Gaza to be inhabitable in 2020 it would need “herculean efforts,” but the 2014 military operation deteriorated the necessary infrastructure even more. The damage to water and sanitation infrastructure will require $620 million to fix according to their report.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in a 2015 report , "Gaza relies almost completely on a coastal aquifer as the sole source of freshwater. However, 95 percent of the aquifer’s water is not safe for drinking without treatment.”
“Years of over-abstraction have taken a heavy toll on Gaza’s present and future water resources. Annual abstraction of water from the aquifer has been well above the recharge rate by over 100 million cubic meters, almost twice the sustainable rate. Consequently, groundwater levels have declined, seawater from the Mediterranean has infiltrated and salinity levels have increased, making the water unsafe for drinking according to WHO standards,” stated the report.
Some world leaders met in April 2015 to discuss ways to assist Palestine in their water crisis. A desalinization plant was the optimal choice of the speakers, who cited that it would clean the salt water in the Mediterranean Sea for consumption, and would employ Palestinians to operate the plant. Others worry that desalinization plants solve some problems, but create others. Desalinization plants require immense amounts of energy to operate, are expensive, and the salty output have nowhere to go. Often that element is put back into the sea, which can destabilize the ecosystem.
Some international charitable organizations have been doing their part to help Palestinians. Oxfam, an international charity organization has been delivering clean drinking water to Gaza as well as giving people hygiene kits. The American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) has been working to expand access to clean water for Palestinians, Jordanians, and Lebanese people for four decades. The International Red Cross has been working in Palestine as well to help restore water access and electricity to schools and hospitals.
Gaza has existed in a war-like state with Israel since 1948. In the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, The UN said that 2,104 Palestinians died, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 women, as well 67 Israelis were killed, including 64 soldiers, three civilians including one foreign national. Their report stated that 373,000 children required psychosocial support.
Operation Protective Edge was a response to Hamas, a Palestinian fundamentalist organization operating in Gaza. Early that year two Hamas members are suspected in having kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers.
Despite this conflict, Israel supplies Palestine with 10 million cubic meters of water each year, which is more than before the 2014 conflict. Gaza, though, requires 200 million cubic meters a year to sustain its population, according to the Palestinian National Authority.
Gaza is a very densely populated area with few options to combat their water crisis. It is important for us as educated people to understand what is happening in places that are different for our own—where water is not an unlimited resource. This is not the only crisis on Earth, or in the Middle East but as Global citizens, it is important to understand issues in the world and do what you are able to help.