Israel has built a pipe to funnel sewage away from the Gaza Strip and on to a sewage treatment plant in the Israeli border city of Sderot. This action follows Gaza’s own sewage treatment facility shutting down due to a drastic reduction in electricity there.
The process of Israel’s reduction of electricity supply to the Strip followed the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) decision to limit the amount they would pay for Gaza’s connection to the Israeli electricity grid. Israel began to reduce the electricity to Gaza in June, saying it would not make up the shortfall in PA payments.
As the Gaza sewage treatment plant stopped working and could not be repaired due to lack of sufficient electricity, Palestinians began draining their waste into Nachal Hanun, a stream which traverses Israel. The stream flooded under the weight of the sewage and waste seeped into groundwater that national Israeli company Mekorot uses to pump drinking water.
The amount of waste being dumped increased to where Israel had to build a dam on Nachal Hanun. However, the decision was made to connect the pipe in order to absorb the sewage and prevent health and ecological crises. This is the first time such a pipe has been connected since Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005.
As Hamas, the Gaza government authority, has no administrative contact with Israel, the PA has been paying Israel for the electricity Gaza uses. The PA announced it would not continue to pay because Hamas had not reimbursed it. According to some many observers, however, the PA’s move is an effort to squeeze Hamas into giving up its control of Gaza.