The current border wall between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. According to experts, a new underground wall will cause serious damage to Gaza’s Coastal Aquifer.
The Coastal Aquifer, the main freshwater resource for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, has been in danger for a long time. The environmental impacts of last year’s war between Israel and Gaza created serious damage, merely compounding years of steady pollution.
Recently, Egypt began construction on a 10 km (7 mile) wall to cut down on smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. And as if the beleaguered aquifer didn’t have enough problems, experts in Gaza determined yesterday that this underground steel wall will cause even further damage to Gaza’s aquifer.
A team of Palestinian experts and specialists presented these findings during a symposium called “The Metal Wall between Egypt and Gaza: Impacts, Environmental and Human Consequences.”
Water expert Nezar Al-Weheidi explained that extensive digging could lead to saltwater intrusion, as well as cause the soil, and therefore buildings on it, to collapse.
Abed Al-Fattah Abed Rabu, lecturer in Environment Sciences at the Islamic University added,
“the metal wall, between 20 to 30 meters deep underground, will obstruct the flowing of water in the joint aquifer between Sinai and Gaza, threaten the aquifer which is already suffering from many problems including lack of water, pollution and mismanagement.”
“Construction of the wall will contribute to contaminating the aquifer due to soil weakness and inconsistency which, in turn, will contribute to the deterioration of the quality of water. This will lead to an increase in the poor state of local environment and will affect the health and environmental conditions of those in Gaza.”
In addition, other symposium participants noted the economic impacts of the wall, such as job loss and slowed development of the local markets, and discussed how the media could play a role in preventing this damage.
The Coastal Aquifer is a major source of both drinking and irrigation water in Gaza. It seems that, once again, the environment here in the Middle East is an unfortunate hostage to regional politics and conflict.
More on the environment and environmental damage in Gaza:
Recent Gaza Conflict Has Environmental Impacts, Too!
Gazans Smoke Sewage Peace Pipe With Israel
Solar Cooking Ovens: Another Eco-Solution from the Gaza Strip