Ensuring the functioning of life-sustaining infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is critical for advancing the two main Israeli goals of the war in Gaza – the return of the hostages and the defeat of the Hamas regime.
Providing clean drinking water and treatment of wastewater, along with the supply of food, shelter, and medicine, are critical security considerations for the following reasons:
● Granting legitimacy to the military action- Ensuring a humanitarian situation that is in line with international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip is a key condition for mobilizing internal, international, and regional legitimacy for military action.
● Ensuring the safety of Palestinian civilians, Israeli hostages, and soldiers in Gaza – An outbreak of infectious diseases will directly endanger civilians, kidnapped Israeli citizens, and IDF soldiers in the Strip. In addition, there is concern that an outbreak of epidemics would likely spread into Israel and Egypt.
● Preventing long-term pollution that damages natural resources – A humanitarian disaster in Gaza will lead to long-term pollution damaging natural water sources such as the coastal aquifer and the many wells both in Gaza and in Israel.
●Conserving financial resources by preventing a humanitarian disaster – Prevention is always less costly.
● Maintaining Israel’s values and upholding its moral standing. Given Israel’s interests as detailed above, to prevent a humanitarian disaster occurring in Gaza, Israel must take concrete actions to improve the immediate humanitarian situation in the southern Gaza Strip. This requires that Israel:
– Allow the entry or provision of sufficient basic water supply for the civilian population, while protecting water/wastewater infrastructure and the operation of desalination facilities, supply of chlorine into the water systems, and maintenance equipment needed.
– Facilitate maximum sewage treatment by providing fuel for sewage pumping systems, and, as much as possible, operating treatment plants in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) professional bodies.
– Permit sufficient energy supply for water and sewage treatment needs by considering to re-activate parts of the power lines in the south of Gaza, (monitoring the transmission of electricity), supplying fuel under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), and renewable energy systems that are disconnected from the grid.
– Open the Kerem Shalom crossing for the transfer of essential humanitarian aid – water, fuel, food, shelter, and medicine – in order to overcome the backlog at Raffa Crossing in the provision of humanitarian aid.
– Promote a framework that connects relevant factors in Israel to their counterparts in the UN in order to create a comprehensive mapping and status report of needs, locations, bottlenecks, contributions, assistance funding, and the like.
– Promotion of a vaccination program and health monitoring – support for monitoring disease in Gaza and promotion of a vaccination program under the auspices of an international organization in accordance with health developments in the Gaza Strip.