Israel expected to increase water supply for Gaza

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Israel, under pressure from Western allies to ease a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, is preparing to boost electricity to a desalination plant so it can produce more water for people in the enclave, an Israeli security official and a western official told Reuters on Wednesday.

An Israeli offensive launched on Gaza in response to an October 7, 2023 attack by Hamas has left millions in Gaza with little food, scarce water, and failing sanitation, Western aid agencies say.

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Washington and other allies are pressing the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ease the military offensive and allow in more aid and supplies to relieve the humanitarian crisis.

The Israeli plan, the details of which were shown to Reuters, is to directly supply electricity from Israel to a large water desalination facility in Khan Younis, the two sources said.

The facility was established with United Nations funding in 2017 to provide drinking water to areas in Deir al-Balah, Khan Younis and the Mawasi area, where many Gazans have fled due to fighting.

The facility has a production capacity of about 20,000 cubic meters of water per day, while today the facility provides only some 1,500 cubic meters due to the lack of electricity. Gaza depends on Israel for much of its electricity supply. That power has been cut since the fighting started.

The Israeli source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the planned supply of electricity to the water plant could provide water for just under a million people.

The source did not give a deadline for when the power supply would come on line. Current power is coming from generators and solar.

The source said the plan has been approved by both the Israeli prime minister and the Israeli minister of defense but still requires approval from other ministers in the government.

“There are parties who are trying to cancel the process,” the source said without providing details.

The Israeli prime minister’s office declined a request for comment.

A Western official familiar with the plan, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said preparations were being made to restore the power to the plant.

The official said that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant approved the reopening of the power line when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with him in Israel earlier this month.

“The Israelis are ready on their side,” said the official. “Right now, Palestinian engineers are inside the strip checking the integrity of the line.”

The official said restoring power to the line that feeds the desalination plant was a crucial element in alleviating the water crisis in Gaza, but would not solve the issue.

There was still a need to get in equipment to fix the sanitation system, and this was hampered by the fighting, the official said.

Read more:

Summer heat brings new misery to Palestinians in Israel’s Gaza campaign

US keeps pause on Israeli weapon shipment as Gallant reports ‘significant progress’

UN tells Israel it will pause aid work in Gaza without better safety

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