Daily Archives: November 15, 2012

Why Gaza Is Screwed

Twitter has been inflamed by Israel’s incursion into Gaza. Ignoring the chattering masses, watchers of the region who see local sectarian issues without the apocalypse colored lenses American media are forced to wear note that this pattern of conflict initiated by the party in power right before an election has been Israel’s norm for half a century.

This recipe is familiar from 1955, when David Ben-Gurion returned from his exile in Sde Boker and led the Israel Defense Forces to a retaliatory action in Gaza, and his party, Mapai, to victory in the election. (Barak recalled this period with nostalgia, when he spoke last week at a memorial for Moshe Dayan). Ever since, whenever the ruling party feels threatened at the ballot box, it puts its finger on the trigger. The examples are common knowledge: the launch of the Shavit 2 missile in the summer of 1961, in the midst of the Lavon affair; the bombing of the Iraqi reactor in 1981; Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon in 1996, and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza on the eve of the 2009 election. In the two latter cases, the military action turned into a defeat in the election.

Underneath all that, here is the situation that is going to end badly, first for Gaza, and then some time after that for Israel, too. I wrote The Muslim World on January 30th, 2012, and I expressed my concern then:

I suspect Israel will face the same fate as the kingdom of Jerusalem, and water will be the cause of its failure.

Israel has three main watersheds, one on either side of the spine of mountains that divides the country, and then Lake Kinneret is counted as a separate basin, although it drains through the Jordan, just as the eastern watershed does.

Beneath the surface there are a variety of aquifers, geological formations with varying capacities to store water.

And here is the specific map of the Gaza strip.

Here are the deadly details.

The recharge from rain to the basin is approximately 40 mcm/yr with the majority(approximately 25 mcm/yr) infiltrating into a subsurface with relatively high salinity(chloride higher than 400 mg/l) (Tables 3-5). This ratio is based on the water salinity map published by Mogheir (2003). Lateral inflow of groundwater from Israel (Figure20) accounts for an additional approximately 30 mcm/yr of the total recharge. Seawater intrusion into the basin has increased significantly over the years due to overpumping. During the period 1973-1992 the inflow from sea water was estimated to be 7 mcm/yr, while during the period from 1993-2009 the amount increased to approximately 15 mcm/yr. The outflow of freshwater to the sea was estimated to beapproximately 5 mcm/yr during the period 1973-1992, and zero during the period1993-2009

There is an 8% overall regional decline in rainfall cited a paragraph or two before this one … during a time when the population went from 340,000 to 1.6 million – a 470% jump.

On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights.

The United Nations human right to water is a fine ideal, but let me convert those numbers from English to metric – Gaza is just under eleven thousand acres, and their very limited aquifer is taking on just over twelve thousand acre feet of seawater annually.

Two state solution? One state solution? That is the will of man. Mother Nature might impose a no-state solution, similar to what we see in Somalia today.

Allah dessicates whom he pleases. God help us all …

See Israel Hydrological Service 2012 Report for a more expansive read on the topic.