Five reasons why Israel’s water technology complicates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Published November 8th, 2015 - 02:56 GMT
A Palestinian boy drinking water in the Gaza Strip. (AFP/File)
A Palestinian boy drinking water in the Gaza Strip. (AFP/File)

While high floods in Amman drowned the city and Cyclone Chapala’s landfall brought years’ worth of rain to Yemen, residents may forget for a second about the region's water crisis. 

However, water has been and remains a critical resource and a point of tension in the region. And that tension runs particularly high in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Here are five ways Israel’s water technology aggravates the conflict even further:

1. Israel has been building its water empire since the '90s. Five desalination plants were built back then. Coupled with water recycling practices, they've helped to eliminate concerns over water availability. Meanwhile some Palestinians rely on improvised water systems, and others use water connections that are considered illegal.

2. Israel has reinvigorated existing technology that sifts out salt molecules from water under high pressure, which had been left to gather dust since its development in the '60s. It's one of many innovative technologies that Palestine can’t even dream of. Then there's Sorek, the world’s largest desalination facility working at full capacity.

3. Israel not only limits innovative technology but water itself to Palestine. Hagihon, the Israeli water company that controls the water flow into some Palestinian territories, has cut off water to some neighborhoods on occasion.

4. Israel can refine its technologies, as Hebrew University’s Smith Faculty of Agriculture is leading the charge in investigating the health and environmental effects of greywater usage. Even startups, like award-winning Emefcy, have joined in. Palestine lacks parallel universities or startups to match the Israel’s pace of innovation.

5. Water rights and land holdings deepen the rift between Palestinian and Israeli water accessibility. The Sea of Galilee is dominated by Israel, supplying them with about 60 percent of its freshwater demands (a billion cubic meters per year), and quenches Palestinian thirst to a lesser degree — the exact amount is still fraught with controversy.

By Elizabeth Tarbell

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