Recent Gaza Conflict Has Environmental Impacts, Too!

gaza-city-green-prophet-environment-ecologyAs the dust settles on the recent round of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, reports indicate that the environmental damage is another unfortunate byproduct of the war.

The political situation aside, Gaza’s ecological conditions are already conducive to groundwater pollution.  The sandy desert soil tends to absorb water – or pollutants like sewage – easily.  Also, the groundwater is fairly close to the surface, so access wells are fairly shallow and easily contaminated.

Combine this with an aging, poorly maintained, and now war-damaged sewage system, and there is a certain recipe for groundwater disaster.

Due to both a lack of investment and an inability to access materials and equipment for repairs, Gaza’s sewage treatment infrastructure was in a pretty bad state of disrepair before the war began at the end of December.  Israel’s military actions caused even more damage to many of the pipes.  As a result, top water engineers in Gaza report that the entire system is on the verge of collapse, posing a severe threat to Gaza’s groundwater resources.

Monther Shoblack, Director-General of Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, said that “Eight main water artesian wells were either fully or partially destroyed during the [Israeli] bombardments.  Repairs are underway, but are difficult because of the import ban on items like pipes, which Israel fears might be used to make bombs.  The damage will make drinking water, which is already in short supply in Gaza, even more scarce.

Unfortunately, the war impacted other natural resources in Gaza in addition to the groundwater.  Late last week the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that,

Almost all of Gaza’s 13,000 families who depend on farming, herding and fishing have suffered damage to their assets during the recent conflict and many farms have been completely destroyed

Owing to a limited agricultural production, people in Gaza are facing an acute shortage of nutritious, locally-produced and affordable food.

The FAO will soon resume its projects in Gaza, including $6.5 million dollars in emergency agricultural rehabilitation aid, which will include “input packages” of seeds, fertilizers (hopefully the organic kind, says this Green Prophet!), animal feed, and veterinary supplies to reinvigorate household food production for the coming season.  The aid will also help repair damaged agricultural infrastructure, such as greenhouses, animal sheds, irrigation networks, and water wells.

Although we all have our own personal political opinions when it comes to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, let’s remember that the environment has no fences or borders.  In such a small region, Palestinian environmental problems are sure to affect Israel, and vice versa.  Let’s hope that in the future Israelis and Palestinians can cooperate to protect their shared environment, rather than let it be destroyed as another casualty of war.

:: IRIN News
:: FAO Newsroom

Photo Credit: BHowdy

Moe Prophecies related to the recent conflict in Gaza:
Choose “The Environment” During Latest Middle East Conflict
An Eco-Farm Blooms Under Rocket Fire From Gaza

The Conflicted Middle East To Worsen As Global Warming Causes Rising Sea Levels

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