Mekorot responds to Gisha’s Freedom of Information application regarding water supply to the Gaza Strip
On July 6, 2015, Gisha made an application under the Freedom of Information Act to Mekorot (Hebrew), Israel’s national water company, which is in charge of supplying water from Israel to the Gaza Strip. Gisha requested information about water supply to Gaza in recent years. The Freedom of Information application was made after a similar request, addressed to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) was rejected on the grounds that “COGAT is not in charge of electricity and water supply to the Gaza Strip, and therefore does not have exact figures”.
The response received from Mekorot on September 2, 2015 (Hebrew), shows a gradual decline in the amount of water supplied by Israel to the Gaza Strip since 2008, contrary to Israel’s undertakings under the interim agreements. Whereas Israel supplied 5,148,601 cubic meters of water to the Gaza Strip in 2008, by 2010, the amount had dropped to 4,930,270 cubic meters and in 2012 it was as low as 4,080,716 cubic meters. In 2014, the year of Operation Protective Edge which caused severe damage to civilian infrastructure, Israel supplied only 3,898,832 cubic meters. We note that according to the interim agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israel is obligated to supply Gaza with at least 5 million cubic meters (mcm) of water every year (Article 40, Annex III).
According to Mekorot, the reason for the low supply is capacity and demand in the Gaza Strip, rather than Israeli supply capacities, but this claim clashes with Israel’s recent decision to increase water supply to 10 mcm per year. According to Mekorot, Israel has been supplying more than 5 mcm of water to Gaza only since March 2015. The water enters Gaza through a new pipeline installed in the Nahal Oz area. According to information Gisha received from Palestinian sources, the amount of water supplied to Gaza has yet to reach 10 mcm a year, and currently stands at 7.5 to 8 mcm.
Mekorot also said that three seminars regarding water management have been held over the past five years, with 42 Palestinian officials from Gaza attending. The seminars focused on sewage treatment, water reclamation, standards, maintenance and more.
In a supplementary response, received on October 7, 2015, Mekorot stressed that the 5 mcm of water supplied thus far was provided via a pipeline running through the southern Gaza Strip. In late 2013, Mekorot completed works on a new pipeline in the area of Nahal Oz, which is designed to supply an additional 5 mcm per year. However, since work on the pipeline was not completed, the additional supply began only in March 2015.
Interim figures on water supply for 2015 are: 2,811,419 cubic meters via the southern Gaza pipeline (between January and August 2015), and 1,424,509 cubic meters in the new Nahal Oz pipeline (between March and August 2015). Even together, this is less than 5 mcm.
Mekorot emphasized in its response that it is prepared to supply the Gaza Strip with 5 mcm of water through each pipeline, or 10 mcm together, but that actual supply capacities are influenced by how much can be received on the Gaza side and on infrastructure there. Mekorot also said it was following guidelines given to it by the Israeli water authority with respect to the quantities of water supplied to Gaza.
We note that all supply of water is contingent on payment by the Palestinian Authority and is not supplied free of charge.