The state-owned Israeli Electric Corporation announced Tuesday that it will increase the amount of electricity it provides to the Gaza Strip in order to improve the operation of Gaza’s new sewage treatment facility.
The $100 million sewage plant, built with financing from the World Bank, does not have enough electricity to fully operate. The only power plant in Gaza has periodically halted production because of disputes over fuel tax payments between Hamas, the Iran-backed terror organization that rules the territory, and Fatah, the party in charge of the Palestinian Authority. The plant now runs on reduced capacity, meaning that Gaza residents usually only have six to eight hours of electricity per day, despite assistance from Israel and Egypt. Israel already provides about 30 percent of Gaza’s electricity needs, an IDF spokesman told the Associated Press in May.
The lack of power for the sewage plant has meant that around 90 million liters of raw sewage flows into the Mediterranean Sea and underground aquifers every day, Gidon Bromberg, the CEO of the environmental group EcoPeace, told The Jerusalem Post in March. This could have profound consequences for the health of Palestinians and Israelis alike, Bromberg added, calling it a “ticking time bomb.”
“This is a classic example where nature knows no borders,” he said. “If pollution exists on one side, it very quickly moves to the other side, because that’s the way nature takes it.” He added in a separate interview with the AP that lack of action could make Palestinians and Israelis susceptible to cholera, typhoid, and other pandemic diseases.
Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of national infrastructure, energy, and water, approved the increased power supply earlier this week. The move comes amid reports that Israel’s massive desalination plant in Ashkelon has had its operations disrupted several times in recent months due to high levels of water pollution, affecting Israel’s potable water supply.
[Photo: Chen Leopold / Flash90]