Israel has stopped pumping water groundwater out of two sites in the Negev, after raw sewage dumped from the Gaza Strip into a river which flows into Israel seeped into aquifers inside of Israel.
The Israeli Health Ministry ordered the National Water Carrier (Mekorot) to shut off pumping stations near the town of Netiv Haasara in the western Negev after ministry officials found the Gaza sewage had seeped into the soil around the pumping stations, Yediot Ahronot reported.
Because of funding disputes between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the PLO-governed Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, the supply of electricity to Gaza has been reduced over the past month, leading Hamas officials to shut down a waste treatment plant built with some $100 million in foreign aid.
Over the past two weeks, cities in the northern Gaza Strip have let their sewage flow untreated into the Nahal Hanun stream.
The Nahal Hanun stream runs across the Gaza Strip and into pre-1967 Israel, passing by Netiv Haasara and seeping into the nearby aquifers.
The Askhelon Coast Regional Council attempted to use pumping trucks to remove the Gaza waste flowing into Israel, but was unable to remove the buildup of waste.
"The Israeli government must understand that the difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is worsening and its implications for the Gaza area communities are directly observable," Ashkelon Coast Regional Council head Yair Farjoun told Yediot.
"If the situation does not change, the entire State of Israel will be affected by what is happening on the other side of the border. We need immediate government intervention including policy formulation and decisions on how to deal with such phenomena," said Farjoun.
This is not the first time raw sewage dumped from Gaza into streams or the Mediterranean have affected Israel.
In 2016, Gaza sewage flooded Israeli beaches and forced the closure of Israel’s desalination plant in Ashkelon.
The Askhelon desalination plant was shut off again in March 2017 due to further contamination by raw sewage flowing in from Gaza.