Israel's Water Emergency - Israel Will Launch Full Scale Attack Within Days : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Two articles are posted below. They seem unrelated, but perhaps they are quite closely related.

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Article #1:

CIA Tells UPI : Israel Will Attack

21 July: The US Central Intelligence Agency is convinced, according to United Press International news agency, that Israel is poised to carry out a retaliatory full-scale attack on Palestinian-controlled territory “in a matter of days”. One former CIA official, referring to Sharon, said: “There’s no question that he’s going in.” The sources believe Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon will wait until after the summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations ending in Genoa Sunday. Another believed he would wait for the next car-bomb attack before launching a full-scale assault designed to drive Arafat into exile and destroy the Palestinian Authority. According to those sources, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is already engaged in talks with Syria about relocating Palestinian leaders to Damascus. UP quotes senior Israeli officials, including Sharon himself, as insisting that troop movements this week and the beefing up of tank forces on the West Bank and Gaza Strip were intended to strengthen Israel’s defensive position. The agency notes that reports of an impending attack come amid worsening relations between Israel and the CIA. CIA Director George Tenet was disappointed by the breakdown of the ceasefire he negotiated last month. A State Department official in Washington said to the UPI correspondent: “The situation does not look good. We are all watching it.” He would not confirm the impending attack, but said that the Hadassah chain of hospitals has been “ratcheting up” its medical preparations. According to an intelligence source, “The administration is talking to Sharon every day counseling patience.” Israel’s plan, as described in UPI, would come in the form of a “huge, full-force invasion that would involve two infantry and paratroop divisions, an armored force, plus large numbers of US-supplied F-16 and F-15 jet fighters and Apache helicopter gunships, that would attack the West Bank and Gaza, including the major Palestinians cities of Ramallah, Qualqilya, Jericho, Tulkarm, Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem. Portions of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be captured and held for an indeterminate length of time. ”The Israeli forces would also capture and kill any members of Hamas, Hizballah, the Islmic Jihad or other organizations defined by Israel as “terrorist”. A wanted list as already been drawn up. DEBKAfilenotes that the UPI report has not been confirmed or denied by any Israeli spokesman. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Article #2:

Greening Israel: Sharon’s Water Revolution

22 July: The decision Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon reached this week on the fate of the national water supply will affect Israel’s future as much as any doctrine of war. Pushed into a decision by the dire water shortage, he has come out in favor of a green Israel. Fighting the demand to liquidate water-guzzling agriculture, he has decided instead to save the farm industry and let it have enough water to avoid any uprooting. Pumping water will cease at once from the drought-stricken Sea of Galilee, where dry patches in the biblical lake make walking on water no miracle, and from the mountain aquifer. Instead, Israeli will resort to private wells in the coastal area together with water imports in tankers from Turkey. Desalination plants will go up to meet the country’s growing needs in four or five years time. Without imports from Turkey, Israel would have needed some 30 desalination plants, with a total price tag of about $6 billion, in the next five years. This would have entailed a sharp increase in imported fuel to operate the facilities -- an ironic twist in which Israel’s attempts to avoid dependence on outside sources for water would have boosted its dependence on foreign fuel. According to details of the plan reaching DEBKAfile, the government has effectively nationalized about 1,000 private wells along the coastal plain. Wells will be dug again in Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva and Hadera! The decision was a no-brainer: pumping water from the Kinneret these days is like getting water from a stone. After five disastrous years of drought, there simply isn’t enough left. As for the mountain aquifer – saline water is seeping into fresh water so fast that that source will not be fit drink either. Which leaves only the coastal aquifer, where pumping will be increased along with the accelerated construction of desalination facilities along the coast. The plants will be medium-sized and each will desalinate 50 million cubic meters of water a year. Sharon’s has thus finally broken the deadlocked water battle long dividing Israel’s water authorities. He has given victory to former water commissioner Meir Ben-Meir, who for years has urged tapping coastal water sources to solve the country’s severe water shortage, over the current office-holder, Shimon Tal, a Mekorot man, and a bevy of experts, who opposed this step. The battle was at bottom over a single issue: Israel’s farming sector. Tal and the hydrologist community in Israel argued that the country could be saved from slipping deeper into the crisis only by an immediate cut of between 100 million cubic meters and 150 million cubic meters in the annual water quota for agriculture. This would have been the kiss of death for large sections of Israel’s farm industry, especially the flower industry, fruit orchards and cash crops such as apples, plums, pears, peaches and grapes. The economic, social and demographic changes in Israel also would have been profound. In Galilee, for instance, billions of dollars have been sunk in expanding farmland to attract more Jews to the fertile areas, both to maintain a slight Jewish majority over the Arab population and preserve the environment from re-desertification.. Farming communities received large loans to plant fruit orchards on their grazing lands. Most were planted three to four years ago and would have started bearing fruit in a year or two. Had it been up to Tal and the other water experts, the trees of Galilee would have died for lack of water before then, as the taps would have been turned off next week. Some 250,000 people would have lost their livelihood and the national investment in developing in the area gone down the drain. Many thousands of Jewish farmers would have packed their bags, given up on Galilee and headed for the overcrowded urban center of the country. Even now, Arabs make up 49.6 percent of the region’s population, according to official figures. DEBKAfile sources in the Galilee report that this figure is an underestimate. Some 50,000 Palestinians have settled illegally in Galilee and are not included in the official figures. They have moved over from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, effectively putting into action the Palestinian demand of a “right of return”, over which the Camp David talks collapsed in July 2000. In addition, the Galilee is now home to more than 7,000 Lebanese who fled south Lebanon after the Israeli troop withdrawal in May 2000. In reality, there are more than 60,000 Arab settlers living in the Galilee over and above the official population figures, representing 52 percent of Galilee’s population. Desertion of the region by Jewish growers denied water will boost the Arab majority to 60 percent. Water was the key to nipping this exodus in the bud and would be available, according to Ben-Meir, by stopping the pumping of water from the Sea of Galilee and mountain aquifer, and beginning to tap the coastal aquifer, whose reserves are good for another five to six years. This would give Israeli time, Ben-Meir argued, to set up a chain of desalination plants along the coast, while also beginning to import water from Turkey. Sharon signed off on the Meir blueprint, a decision evaded by at least three of his predecessors. Ben-Meir’s program hinges on a coastal aquifer some 300 kilometers (180 miles) long from the Carmel foothills near Haifa in the north, down to the end of the Gaza Strip at Gush Katif, in the south. It is no more than three kilometers (two miles) wide at some points and 15 kilometers (nine miles) at others, corresponding more or less to Israel’s average girth within its pre-1967 borders. The soil is made up of layers or sand or sediment, where digging is easy and cheap. Water is usually found at a depth of several dozen meters below sea level, and sometimes less. But during the drought years of overuse, salt water has started to seep in from the sea and underground sources. As pumping from the coastal aquifer increases, so too will the amounts of sea and saline water flowing into it. Ben-Meir’s solution is simple and logical -- Israel has to begin building desalination plants that will get their water from the coastal aquifer. Desalinating seawater costs between 60 to 70 cents per cubic meter even before it leaves the plant. Using the coastal aquifer’s water – a combination of fresh and saline – will cut the cost to only 30 to 35 cents. That is why Ben-Meir believes that utilizing the coastal aquifer makes sense. It is also the reason why minister of national infrastructure Avigdor Lieberman, after consulting Sharon last weekend went into action at once, ordering pumping to begin of the coastal wells to meet the Israeli economy’s substantial requirements. He also decided to reopen, clean and begin drawing water from existing wells in the coastal area. The move effectively entailed the expropriation and transfer to Mekorot of pumping rights from the owners of about 400 private wells in the region. In most other countries, this would be called nationalization, but in Israel it is dubbed a tacit agreement with the well owners to discontinue pumping for their private needs, earning 45 agorot for every per cubic meter of water sold Mekorot. Under stepped up procedures, desalination facilities will go up in Ashdod and Hadera. A tender will soon be published for a third plant in Ashkelon. Each facility will cost between $150 and $200 million to build. Chances are that Israelis will begin to drink desalinated water in the summer of 2004. To shorten construction time, the first two desalination plants will go up in the compounds of the big Electric Company’s power plants in Ashdod and Hadera, thus circumventing years of red tape and wrangling with environmental groups. The Ashdod facility will be located inside the port area beside the Ashkelon-Eilat oil pipeline. Another strategic decision reached by Sharon is to continue Israel’s annual transfer of 50 million cubic meters of water to neighboring Jordan, whose water crisis is even more acute than Israel’s. The main hurdles ahead are expected to come up over the expropriation of the pumping rights in private wells along the coast. Private owners may demur and Arab owner, especially in the regions of Qalansua, Tira, Faradis and Umm el Fah, go the Supreme Court and complain Israeli is stealing Arab water, without regard to the fact any water piped to Galilee will benefit both Jewish and Arab farmer. As for Israel’s reliance on Turkey, DEBKAfile’s military sources note that strategic relations and systems coordination between the two countries are advancing constantly and have reached the point of operational integration.

-- Robert Riggs (, July 22, 2001


Water is a major issue in the region. Although it is almost never mentioned in the main stream media.

The head of the Israeli water company Mekorot, Uri Saguy, warned Lebanon against changing the distribution of water in the region.

"Whoever takes unilateral action will find himself with a unilateral reaction," said Saguy. "There is no water in the Middle East. Therefore, understandings must be reached. If not, it can turn into a war or a forceful confrontation."


-- Martin Thompson (, July 22, 2001.

U.S. Expert Warns Middle East of Water Crisis Updated: Thu, Jul 19 9:53 AM EDT

By Issam Hamza

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - A former U.S. senator and water expert has warned that the Middle East could face a grave water shortage in the next few years and urged leaders of the region to engage in joint efforts to solve the problem.

Paul Simon, author of a book entitled "Protecting the World's Water Supplies," urged leaders of Syria, Israel and other countries to meet regardless of whether peace is achieved to discuss how best they can share the region's scarce water resources.

He warned in a lecture in Damascus on Wednesday that wars in the next 15 years would be launched to control water, not oil.

"I know there are lots of obstacles...and that it is an emotional issue, but I think that violence (in the Middle East) will go up and down and will take a long time to end, but we should not wait until peace is achieved. There should be a joint regional effort to solve the problem (now)," Simon said.

He suggested adopting a comprehensive plan to share water and to establish an international court for water, saying the United States, the West and international agencies would back such plans.

Simon, who served 20 years in U.S. Congress before retiring in 1997, said U.S. intelligence agencies had named at least 10 areas in the world where wars over water were likely.

"Nations fight for oil, but oil, despite its importance, has substitutes...there is no alternative for water. We die quickly without water," he said.

"None of the world's leaders would hesitate to wage a war to control water resources," he added.

Simon, head of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute think tank and a professor at the Southern Illinois University, had talks with senior Syrian officials, including Environment Minister Farouq al- Adeli, on future water problems in the region.

"There are 300 million people in the world who are living in areas which face a serious shortage of water. This will increase to three billion in 2025. Per capita water supplies in the Middle East, which stands at 3,340 cubic meters (11,800 cubic feet) per year, will drop to only 667 in 2025," he said.

A Syrian official said last month that low rainfall in the last three years had forced authorities to cut off supplies of fresh water to the capital for 16 hours per day.

Simon suggested several, short- and long-term, methods to deal with the problem, including conservation, reducing waste in pipe networks, family planning and increased use of desalinated water.

Syrian Environment Minister Farouq al-Adeli, who attended the lecture, said he believed a peace deal should be reached with Israel before discussing anything else.

"Peace first. Peace Second. Peace third. Then we will discuss whether a water agreement can be reached with Israel." water-usa-dc

-- Martin Thompson (, July 22, 2001.

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