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Israeli Water Tech Reaching America's Biggest States

Science & Tech  (tags: water technology, Israel, desalination )

- 1529 days ago -
From desalination to security, made-in-Israel technology is making its mark in communities around the US

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Syd H (48)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 3:27 am

Maybe the US doesn't need it as much as those under Israel's crushing thumb:


Palestinians Face Food and Water Crisis in the West Bank Spurred by Israeli Control of Resources
Israel now controls 85 percent of the water resources in the West Bank. Palestinians can barely afford their own drinking water—much less the necessary water to irrigate their orchards and crops.

Beit Ummar used to be known as the fruit basket of Palestine.

Nestled in the Hebron Mountains, the old Beit Ummar was covered in olive orchards and trees bearing brightly colored lemons, plums and dates. Lush, leafy vineyards wound their way through the meandering mountain roads, bearing robust grapes often used for the stuffed grape leaves or sweet grape syrup that the region is renowned for.

The orchards and vineyards are still there, but they are no longer vibrant with color. Like a photograph that has been leached of its saturation, the once abundant orchards and fruit trees bursting with hues of bright yellows, rich reds and warm, deep purples are now ragged, parched and covered in dust.

Just across the way, a similar farm doesn’t appear to have these problems. The leaves of the trees are still lush and green as the branches hang heavily with fruit. Signs of thirst or stress from the dry, desert climate are absent.

But this farm isn’t Palestinian. It’s Israeli—and the people who will reap this harvest are not Palestinians, but Jewish settlers in the neighboring Israeli Settlement Karni Tzur.

Unlike the Palestinian farmers, these Israeli farmers have access to the necessary water resources to irrigate their crops. While state-of-the-art irrigation technology nourishes these crops, and ensures their abundance and profitability, Palestinians must rely solely on inconsistent rainwater for irrigation. This is because Israel, not Palestine, controls the vast majority of water resources in the West Bank.

Ironically, the political enabler for the Israeli control of Palestinian resources is written into the alleged Peace Process. Since the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israel/Palestine has been administratively divided into three sections. Most of the farmland and water resources of the West Bank fall under Area C—meaning that the Israeli Defense Force maintains complete control of the land and resources, despite the fact that they are in the West Bank, meaning that these resources are technically Palestinian.

Israel now controls 85 percent of the water resources in the West Bank. Though Palestinians could theoretically drill more wells, they are forbidden from doing so without a permit from the Israel Military. These permits are notoriously difficult, if not impossible to obtain. Palestinians are forced to rely on Israeli authorities for access to their own water.

Often, Israeli merchants sell this water back to Palestinians at inflated prices. Palestinians can barely afford their own drinking water—much less the necessary gallons of water to irrigate their orchards and crops.

Though Palestinian crops flourish in dry, desert climates, the extreme lack of water is taking a devastating toll on the land. Many farmers have forgone harvesting their crops because the yield and the quality are no longer worth it. Israeli farmers with similar crops have replaced Palestinian farmers in the markets, further economically marginalizing an already disenfranchised people.

Israel is also symbolically asserting its physical control over Palestinian land and natural resources through the infamous Separation Barrier—known among Palestinians as the Apartheid Wall. Originally, the Separation Barrier—which upon completion will be a 470 mile long wall and fence physically separating Israel from the Palestinian territories—was erected for security reasons. In practice, it is used to further segregate Israelis and Palestinians and reassert what land is Israeli and what land is Palestinian.

Unlike most man-made borders, the Separation Barrier does not follow a smooth line. It is jagged, as if it were following a river or a mountain range as its border. It is not. Instead, it is meticulously jaggedly drawn in a way that puts the most arable land and plentiful natural resources are on the West (Israeli) side of the wall, while relegating the meager leftovers for the East (Palestinian) side.

Palestinian farmers that have tended their land for decades, if not generations, often find their homes on one side of the wall and their land on the other. To cross the barrier and access their crops, farmers need to obtain special permits from the Israeli authorities. As a result, Palestinian farmers can often only spend a few days per year with their crops—which is not nearly enough time.

If farmers are able to harvest their crops, in order to sell them in Israel—and often other parts of the West Bank—they are forced to wait for hours at checkpoints, and are often denied entry. Sometimes they are able to transfer their produce across the border—but this is time consuming and expensive. Most times they return home, unable to sell their crops.

Many farmers have been forced to give up their land and seek another form of livelihood.

For Palestinians, owning land is not only an essential component of their livelihoods, but also a point of pride. Land is passed down through generations—sowing seed in the land and reaping the harvest is a cultural ritual that honors the family and ones identity and heritage as a Palestinian. When Palestinian land is stolen and starved, it is not simply Palestinian livelihoods that are being attacked but also centuries of Palestinian tradition, identity and honor.


Syd H (48)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 3:28 am

Gaza warned of looming water crisis
Friends of the Earth campaign highlights problem which it says is being exacerbated by hold-ups in Middle East peace process

Residents of Tel Aviv will wake up in February to discover a huge hourglass full of polluted water standing in the city's central Rabin Square. The installation is the centrepiece of a campaign launched by the Friends of the Earth Middle East under the headline: Water Can't Wait, designed to draw Israelis' attention to an approaching water crisis – particularly in the Gaza Strip.

Gidon Bromberg, director of FoE in Tel Aviv, said the environment was being held hostage by the logjam in the Middle East peace process and internal Palestinian disputes between Hamas and Fatah. As the politicians dawdle, fresh drinking water is running out for the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Last November, the World Bank completed construction of a wastewater treatment plant designed to prevent pollution of the underground aquifer that provides fresh water to 400,000 people in the northern Gaza Strip, but it stands idle, silenced by political wrangling. Gaza is dependent on Israel for most of its electricity supply but Israel is refusing to provide the extra three megawatts required to power the plant until Gaza's existing electricity bills are paid. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority cannot agree on who should settle the debt.

"Until a solution is found to provide electricity, untreated sewage will continue to contaminate the coastal aquifer and flow into the Mediterranean," said Bromberg. He said the waste also threatens to pollute an Israeli desalination plant in nearby Ashkelon.

Unicef says that more than 90% of the water extracted from Gaza's sole aquifer is unfit for human consumption. More than four out of five Gazans buy their drinking water from expensive, unregulated private vendors. Most of it is contaminated.

"Some families are paying as much as a third of their household income on water," said June Kunugi, Unicef special representative for the State of Palestine.

Unicef has helped provide 18 small neighbourhood desalination plants, providing free drinking water to 95,000 people.

"Residents receive access to drinking water once a week, which allows them to fill up their storage tanks at home with water that lasts until the next refill," said Sabri Al-Faleet, of al-Nuseirat municipality.

"Pollution crosses borders," declare the captions on the adverts accompanying the FoE campaign. "Time is running out. A solution to the water and environmental problems in the region is urgently required."


David E (139)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 4:04 am
The Hamas in Gaza should direct their efforts in water conservation and recycling plants instead of in rockets fired at Israeli civilians. The Palestinians could learn much from the Israelis in this area only if they would cooperative in a peaceful way.

David E (139)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 5:18 am
The Truth Behind the Palestinian Water Libels

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Water shortages in the Palestinian Authority are the result of Palestinian policies that deliberately waste water and destroy the regional water ecology. The Palestinians refuse to develop their own significant underground water resources, build a seawater desalination plant, fix massive leakage from their municipal water pipes, build sewage treatment plants, irrigate land with treated sewage effluents or modern water-saving devices, or bill their own citizens for consumer water usage, leading to enormous waste. At the same time, they drill illegally into Israel’s water resources, and send their sewage flowing into the valleys and streams of central Israel. In short, the Palestinian Authority is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is not interested in practical solutions to solve the Palestinian people’s water shortages, but rather perpetuation of the shortages and the besmirching of Israel.

Prof. Haim Gvirtzman is a professor of hydrology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University and a member of the Israel Water Authority Council. He is also a long-time advisor of the Israel-PA Joint Water Committee. He authored the BESA Center’s groundbreaking 2012 study on Israel-Palestinian water issues.

Madhuri Pillai (22)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 1:53 pm

Dogan Ozkan (5)
Monday March 17, 2014, 1:51 am

Gloria p (304)
Monday March 17, 2014, 6:37 am
We need some new water tech. There are people in California who threaten to shoot each other over water!

Colin Hope (243)
Monday March 17, 2014, 8:01 am
Did not want to read about a political to fro, by way of some of the above comments........
Anyway, desalination of sea water on a large scale could be tremendous benefit, especially to coastal areas throughout the world. I am a little concerned and so are others, I believe, about the large amounts salt by-product?

Kamia T (89)
Monday March 17, 2014, 6:37 pm
I'm not sure desalinization would be good for our oceans. They're already too acidic, and wouldn't taking water out of the on a major scale just increase that problem? Like everything else, we don't want to hear that we have to STOP -- stop using so much; stop being wasteful. I've learned to wash my dishes with 3 gallons of water total. Hard at first, but now second nature, and much less than before. Each little step helps.

Debra G (0)
Monday March 17, 2014, 11:49 pm
Water wars will be next. Glad that Israel also developed water security systems. Our own reservoirs and aqueducts are pretty vulnerable. Happy to see some governors are recognizing this.

Jaime Alves (52)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 7:29 am
Noted, thanks.
Agree with David Elazar about Hamas.!!
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