Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, September 2015
Egyptian Flooding of Gaza Border With Sea Water an Implementation of an Israeli Plan
September 29, 2015
Stranded Palestinians call for opening Rafah crossing
September 29, 2015 RAFAH, (PIC)--
Palestinians stranded in a number of countries, including Egypt, have
called on Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border crossing and to
allow their return to Gaza.
"Sisi's sea"... part of Israeli scheme to turn Gaza into an island (report)
September 29, 2015 RAFAH, (PIC)--
"Sisi’s sea" as referred to by activists on social network pages in
their talk about the waterway that the Egyptian military is digging on
the borders with Gaza Strip, is not an "Egyptian-planned sea";
basically, it is the first part of an old Israeli scheme to turn Gaza
into a "hostile island", separating it geographically and isolating it
in the middle of water.
Hence it is clear that the current Egyptian project is only part of
the Israeli scheme that was postponed until finding an "ally" from the
Egyptian authority to bear the burden. But the Zionist project is not
limited to isolate Gaza from Egypt only; it also extends to the border
between the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories in 1948.
In spite of the fact that the Israeli security services are aware of
the existence of tunnels between Gaza Strip and the Egyptian borders,
yet they put the project on hold, until the last war broke out against
the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014 in which the Israeli occupation
army was astounded by the huge number of tunnels the Palestinian
resistance had used, resulting in many moral and material damage and
loss of life in the Israeli military ranks.
Rafah farmers watch in horror as Egypt floods Gaza tunnels -
Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East
Author: Mohammed Othman
September 25, 2015
RAFAH, Gaza Strip —
The Egyptian army has been pumping large volumes of Mediterranean Sea waters since Sept. 17 into the buffer zone that it began building two years ago, along 14 kilometers of the Palestinian-Egyptian border. The move is the latest attempt to destroy the tunnels dug by Palestinians under the city of Rafah over the years of the Israeli blockade.
Summary⎙ Print Experts say the effects of the Egyptian army pumping seawater into the tunnels under Rafah will be disastrous for the Palestinian economy and agriculture. AuthorMohammed OthmanPosted September 25, 2015 TranslatorKamal Fayad
The operation is causing concern for the Rafah border area inhabitants, who say that it will affect their lives there. Farmer Nayef Abu Shallouf, who owns three acres of land less than 300 meters from the Egyptian border, said all the salt water will leave his land briny and destroy his crops. He told Al-Monitor, “In addition to damaging the soil, sinkholes will appear wherever tunnels were dug, with collapses occurring sooner or later.”
Nasser Abdullah in Rafah’s al-Salam neighborhood, also close to the Egyptian border, expressed deep concerns about sinkholes that could open at any time under his home, 500 meters from the border. He explained to Al-Monitor, “The tunnels run under our homes. Water flooding these tunnels will lead to their collapse and the destruction of our homes. Their foundations will be gradually degraded by salt water, even if they remained standing.”
Abdel Majid Nassar, a professor of environmental engineering at the Islamic University of Gaza, stated that the whole area will be transformed into marshland as the soil becomes saturated with water and liquefied, with the water seeping into subterranean aquifers.
He explained to Al-Monitor, “Afterward, collapses will occur, similar to the ones that we began feeling today, particularly considering that Rafah’s underground is crisscrossed with large numbers of tunnels that extend for great distances under the city. As a result, the coming days will bring sudden landslides throughout large swaths of land due to the destabilization of the area’s topsoil.”
Nassar said that the foundations of homes close to the border will surely be affected, with those houses suffering damage and falling apart. He also explained that the pumping of seawater will have disastrous effects on Rafah’s agriculture and aquifers, saying, “The water will also seep toward the surface and result in the salinification of topsoil, destroying agriculture there for years. Furthermore, as the topsoil liquefies, salt water will seep into the upper layers of underground aquifers, used by local inhabitants for irrigation and in homes.”
He pointed out that even if the Egyptian army stops pumping seawater in the coming months, removing salt from the topsoil and fixing the ensuing damage would take years and large amounts of fresh water.
The seawater flooding will also have ruinous effects on the Palestinian economy, particularly in the city of Rafah, by damaging local crops.
Economic analyst Moein Rajab told Al-Monitor that the pumping of salt water into the tunnels will affect agriculture and render farmlands unproductive as salt levels rise. As such, large tracts of Palestinian agricultural land that stretches along the Egyptian border will be made useless, leading to a marked decrease in agricultural production.
Rajab added that soon after, the area’s inhabitants would be forced to leave as the topsoil is destabilized, further exacerbating the current Gaza Strip housing crisis. He explained, “Due to the fact that houses are so close to the border — mere hundreds of meters away — homes will become threatened with demolition or damaged to the point of being unlivable, with their foundations buckling as the earth liquefies. As a result, inhabitants will be forced to abandon their homes, which will add problems and further exacerbate the housing crisis engendered by the scarcity of building materials, blockade and pitiable economic situation.”
It seems that Egypt's unilateral move to destroy the tunnels has already had deleterious environmental and economic repercussions for the Gaza Strip no matter how long it goes on.
Will Rabin’s dream of Gaza being swallowed by the sea come true?
Monday, 21 September 2015 16:38
The seemingly eternal Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially in Gaza, which poses a continuous headache for the occupation, pushed the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to say in 1992, “I wish I could wake up one day and find that Gaza has sunk into the sea.”
However, the Gaza Strip did not sink into the sea and the situation is worse than it was during Rabin’s day, both for Israel and the Palestinians. Despite this, Rabin’s dream has been recalled by Palestinians on social networking sites since the Egyptian army began flooding the Gaza border with sea water.
Early on 11 September, the Egyptians started to pump large amounts of sea water into pipes that were extended across the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in an attempt to destroy the smuggling tunnels by flooding them. The Egyptian authorities began the move towards a tunnel-free zone along the border last October, specifically in the city of Rafah. The zone extends for two kilometres and was all done in the name of “combatting terrorism”.
The roots of the Gaza tragedy date back to before the creation of Israel in 1948, and the people of Gaza had no rights when they were under Egyptian sovereignty after that. At the time, the Strip was isolated from its Arab surroundings. This was followed by the June 1967 war, which caused more harm to the Gaza Strip and, of course, the territory has been isolated from the world for more than nine years as a result of the Israeli-imposed blockade. The Egyptians have played a role in this by frequent and lengthy closures of the only border crossing at Rafah.
The Israeli occupation tried to embrace the Palestinians in Gaza after the 1967 war and started to tempt them by supporting the local economy and linking it to Israel’s. The government published Arabic language books and distributed them in Gaza, and presented films translated into Arabic which tried to promote a connection between the people of Gaza and Israel.
Now, Gaza finds itself in a similar predicament being torn between Hamas and Fatah, with the political split dominating since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006. The Islamic movement itself is stuck between reconciliation efforts and the painfully slow reconstruction process following the destruction wrought by Israel’s three offensives against the enclave since 2008. There is a suffocating financial crisis and political isolation from the Arab world and international community, starting with Egypt, Gaza’s southern gateway and the mediator between Hamas and both Israel and Fatah.
“Contacts are underway with Cairo to halt pumping seawater into Rafah,” Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said yesterday, “as such measures are objectionable and pose a threat to groundwater as well as to a large number of homes on the Palestinian side.”
The Palestine Water Authority in the Gaza Strip made a statement on Saturday saying that the Egyptian army’s pumping of sea water is causing subsidence, subjecting “homes close to the area to danger.” It also noted that the sea water has caused an increase in the salinity of the soil, making it “unsuitable for agriculture.” The authority added that pumping water into canals along the border destroys Palestinian water and food security and “empties the area of its residents.”
Hamas gained an ally in Egypt by means of its support for the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood during and after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. This ally was lost when President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by a military coup in July 2013.
The economic and political damage caused by the deterioration of the relationship between Hamas and Egypt has since become more obvious. Campaigns were launched by the coup government to restrict the tunnel economy in Gaza; buffer zones were established; and severe restrictions were imposed on the borders. All of this combined to escalate the poor economic and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.
Despite Hamas’s rejection of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s policies, it was forced, given its geographical and political isolation, to address the leadership and intelligence agencies in Cairo and express the movement’s willingness to meet and discuss cooperation with regards to border security and the restoration of relations. This has been especially important since Egypt was the mediator between Hamas and the Israelis for the current ceasefire agreements agreed after Israel’s offensive last year.
Hamas has not only highlighted repeatedly its interest in restoring its relationship with Egypt, but also emphasised its common security fears and its commitment to crack down on Salafi jihadist organisations that are spreading systematically across the Sinai Peninsula and, in terms of ideology without an organisational structure, in the Gaza Strip.
Those observing the situation do not believe there are likely to be signs of change in Egypt’s policies any time soon, despite the fact that there are talks taking place under Saudi auspices in order to reduce the tension in the relationship. This is evidenced by the fact that the Rafah crossing was only open for 18 days between January and July this year. Although it was opened for four days in August, the small steps taken by the government in Cairo have not reached the level of it reconsidering its policy of isolating Gaza.
The mysterious disappearance of four Palestinians said to have been affiliated with Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in Sinai last month, has caused more distrust between the two sides. Hamas believes that this was an operation orchestrated by the Egyptian government. There has been no word yet on the fate of the four.
Translated from Al-Khaleej Online, 20 September 2015.
If Gaza becomes uninhabitable, it is Israel's responsibility
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine
The Gaza Strip, ravaged by devastating wars of aggression by Israel,
could become uninhabitable for residents within just five years, a
United Nations development agency warned this week.
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