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The Gaza Strip's Water Crises: A Case of Climate Change under Occupation

Posted in 2011 Papers

We would like to aknowledge that this paper has been prepared by Samer Jaber, and is not part of ARIJ publications.

The political context, explored in this paper, includes Israeli generated polices, military operations, and combinations of polices and military operation. The Israeli polices' all of which are expressed through military orders, have given Palestinians little control of their water resources including efficient usage. These policies include a “permit system,” which requires individuals and entities to receive a permit before starting a water related project or entering water reservoirs and pumping sites. Additionally the blockade imposed on Gaza is preventing the installation and development of an effective modern water and sanitation system. The military operations, particularly those since 2000 have inflected devastating damage to Gaza‟s infrastructure especially in Cast Lead operation of 2007-2008 (Makdisi, 2008; United Nations Development Project, 2009). It is important to note that the interim peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians also known as the Oslo Accords has not changed the occupation policies and measures that are imposed in the West Bank and Gaza. Thus, the Israeli authorities continue to tighten their control over the Palestine Territories including its water resources.
The gripe of the water crisis in Gaza is further tightened by factors induced by climate change, which includes decreases in precipitation, drought, and seawater intrusion. There is a cascading effect of climate change. The start and duration of seasons has changed, which has exposed Gaza to more fragility (Mimi, Ziara, and Nigim, 2003; Ministry of Agriculture, 2009). As a consequence of seasonal change, there is an alteration in quantities of rainfall and periods of heavy precipitation. The alteration in precipitation has an effect on the capacity of the soil absorption, which causes a decrease in the water basin's ability to recharge (Mimi, Ziara, and Nigim, 2003). Thus the combination of decrease in water recharge along with seawater intrusion has exacerbated the Gaza water crises.
After examining the issues this paper will recommend an intervention strategy based on the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in 2007. Specifically the no and low regret strategies are recommended in this paper as strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change. The no-regret adaptation strategies are measures justified under all plausible climate change scenarios. The low regret adaptation strategies, however, needs low financial resources (United Nations Development Project, 2011). Additionally in order to carry out these strategies this paper recommends capacity building for Palestine Water Authority. The water crisis is placed within the framework international humanitarian law, which emphasizes access to water is a human-right.

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