Good News

10 ways Israel’s water expertise is helping the world

10 ways Israel’s water expertise is helping the world

Using ingenuity to overcome its serious water challenges, Israel has become the go-to expert for a world facing an impending water crisis.

This year’s WATEC  expo and conference, to be held in September in Tel Aviv, is expected to attract 10,000 stakeholders from 90 countries seeking Israeli solutions for water issues.

Israel exports $2.2 billion annually in water technology and expertise. In addition, these commodities are shared on a humanitarian basis through training courses, consultations and projects.

Keren Kayemeth L’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) often hosts delegations from around the world – most recently, from California, Argentina and the European Policy Center – to see how Israel’s system of treatment facilities and 230 reservoirs has achieved the world’s highest ratio of wastewater reuse.

About 92% of Israeli wastewater gets treated and 75% is used for agricultural irrigation. Israel plans to recycle 95% of its wastewater for irrigation by the end of 2025.

“During the 1980s, recycling wastewater was a revolutionary concept and many people were skeptical. Today, nearly half of the irrigation in Israel comes from recycled wastewater,” says KKL-JNF Development Project Director Yossi Schreiber.

Large Israeli water-tech companies such as Mekorot, Arad Technologies, Tahal Group, Plasson Industries and Ham-let – plus many smaller Israeli firms – are planning and building agricultural and municipal water infrastructure in countries including Angola, Ghana, Serbia, China, Spain and the United States.

On World Water Day, which is celebrated on March 22nd, ISRAEL21c salutes the Israeli governmental and non-governmental organizations that share advanced homegrown water technologies for irrigation, purification, filtering, desalination, conservation, monitoring and recycling.

Here are 10 recent examples.

1. The nonprofit group Innovation: Africa  won a UN award for transforming lives in seven African countries using Israeli technologies such as Netafim irrigation systems enabling farmers to grow more crops with less water; and solar energy systems that pump water from aquifers, saving villagers (mostly women and children) countless hours previously spent finding and fetching water.

2. IsraAID  launched its WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) project about four years ago to tailor-make solutions for communities from Fiji to Haiti to Myanmar.

In the rain-dependent South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, a March 2014 cyclone contaminated reservoirs and destroyed water harvesting systems. Among other steps, IsraAID strategized the engineering of a low-tech gravity system, built and maintained by locals, to bring water from mountain springs down into two villages encompassing more than 600 people and one school. IsraAID is working with the World Bank to construct three more gravity systems.

In Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp and Uganda’s Gulu township, which struggle with waterborne disease and water contamination, IsraAID trains unemployed or underemployed people to be water technicians. Graduates work with local NGOs or water companies, or start their own businesses, to contribute their new expertise in anything from drilling wells and building latrines to teaching

IsraAID water expert Ben Gido, center, demonstrating an Israeli ultrafiltration unit to the Water Authority of Fiji. Photo: courtesy

3. A massive landslide in September 2015 damaged a major irrigation canal partially built by Israeli NGO Tevel b’Tzedek in an impoverished Nepali village. Tevel staff repaired the damage with funding from the Rochlin Foundation and Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, and worked with the local water council to strengthen the canal walls, reestablishing and assuring water supply to 224 households (about 1,300 people) and subsistence farmers.

Also in Nepal, Tevel is fighting the effects of flash floods – which deplete water available for drinking and irrigation — by building irrigation pools and setting up zero water waste systems enabling villagers to conserve water through Israeli methods, including drip irrigation learned by Tevel’s native Nepal director at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Tevel also is teaching village farmers less water-intensive professions, such as beekeeping.

4. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has partnered with Caesarea-based G.A.L. Water Technologies ( to provide free water-treatment products to African nations for more than 20 years. In 2016, MFA donated G.A.L. mobile water purification, storage and distribution vehicles to drought-stricken Papua New Guinea and to the Pacific Marshall Islands.

5. Earlier this month, the MFA’s MASHAV-Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation  established the Kenya Israel Drought Resilience Agriculture Center to help in capacity building with the latest Israeli irrigation and water-resources management knowhow.

6. MASHAV’s special envoy for water and food security went to Swaziland last week with the director of overseas training, programs and research at MASHAV-affiliated Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation to conduct a water survey by request of Swaziland’s prime minister. The experts are identifying possible areas of cooperation in combatting drought and a shortage of water for agriculture.

7. Following a May 2016 earthquake in Ecuador, IsraAID brought a new Israeli water-purification technology from NUFiltration  to several affected villages. Instead of having to buy bottled drinking water, residents can use the NUF system to turn washing water into purified drinking water without electricity. NUF was first piloted by the company in Ghana as a humanitarian project to prevent diseases from contaminated water.

8. The Tel Aviv University chapter of Engineers without Borders designed and built a rainwater collection and purification system in a Tanzanian village where the drinking water had dangerously high amounts of fluoride. Since the project was finished in 2014, it has been supplying safe drinking water to more than 400 children daily.

9. The Technion Engineers without Borders chapter designed and implemented a safe drinking-water system serving more than 600 Ethiopian schoolchildren in a rural village with no reliable source of water for drinking and handwashing. The Israelis taught the older children how to maintain the system and treat the water, and continue to provide support to assure a safe and sustainable water supply.

10. In June 2015, the Israeli Ministry of Economy committed $500,000 to the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice to help developing countries overcome complex water security challenges. The agreement has included two years of study tours and other activities for World Bank staff and officials of various governments.

“Israel has had to manage water services while operating under extreme scarcity conditions, and has done so very impressively,” said Jennifer Sara, director for water at the World Bank, at the agreement signing in Washington. “Its innovative practices are globally recognized — both from technological and institutional perspectives — and will undoubtedly carry lessons for many of the World Bank Group’s clients facing water security challenges.”


Read more: Israel21C

US boycotts UN discussion on Israeli human rights abuses

US boycotts UN discussion on Israeli human rights abuses

The US on Monday issued a strongly worded statement accusing a United Nations body of longstanding bias against Israel.

Amid threats from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to withdraw entirely from the United Nations Human Rights Council, the State Department announced it would boycott the council’s entire Monday discussion about alleged human rights abuses committed by Israel and vote against any resolutions that came from it.

“The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven: ‘Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,’” acting spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement.

Agenda Item Seven is a permanent fixture requiring the council to discuss three times each year any alleged abuses of human rights committed by Israel against Palestinians. Toner said that the item threatens the credibility of the council.

“Today’s actions in the Council are yet another reminder of that body’s longstanding bias against Israel,” he said. “No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the Council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council. It does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter.”

Israel is the only country-specific issue that has a permanent place on the council’s agenda, an opening for discussion about the Jewish state that often sees anti-Israel invective delivered at council meetings from Arab and Muslim states.

“Later this week, the United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same,” Toner said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon also slammed to council.

“The UN Human Rights Council has turned harming Israel into its raison d’etre,” he said. “The time has come to end to this shameful, and even embarrassing, chapter in the history of the UN. Members of the Council must put an end to the bias in this absurd body.”

Earlier, Michael Lynk, the special rapporteur on Palestinian territories held by Israel since 1967, warned that the “illegal settlement enterprise has moved at an alarming pace” this year.

The US has always boycotted the discussion of the agenda item on Israel, and for the past several years Jerusalem has encouraged other nations to do the same.

Last month, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called out the Human Rights Council for “breathtaking double standards” and “outrageously biased resolutions” against Israel, during a press conference after her first meeting with the UN Security Council.

Earlier this month US envoy Erin Barclay said the United States’ commitment to human rights “is stronger than ever.” However, she slammed the council for its focus on Israel.

Where Does Israel Rank In This Year’s UN Happiness Index Report?

Israel Ranked 11th Happiest Nation in the World

The annual World Happiness Report published on Monday by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network has ranked Israel as the 11th happiest country in the world in 2017, a spot it has held for four years.

Prepared by the network and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the report’s release coincides with UN World Happiness Day on March 20.
When the publication first launched in 2012, Israel was ranked at number 14 out of the 156 countries surveyed that year.

The top 10 countries this year, respectively, are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Holland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.
Notable mentions include the United States at 14, Britain at 18 and the South American nation of Chile at 20.

The World Happiness Report is a survey of global societal well-being that ranks 155 countries by happiness levels using variables such as GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy. The report also includes extra factors such as social support, generosity, freedom to make life choices and perceived absence of corruption.
Yemen, South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the very bottom of the list, in that order.

“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” Jeffrey Sachs, the network director and a special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general, said in an interview.

The aim of the report, he added, is to provide another tool for governments, businesses and civil society to help their countries find ways to improve the well-being of citizens.

Read more: Jerusalem Post

Historic restoration at suspected site of Jesus’s burial shrine in Jerusalem completed

Historic restoration at suspected site of Jesus’s burial shrine in Jerusalem completed

The tomb of Jesus has been resurrected to its former glory. Just in time for Easter, a Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and rose to heaven.

Gone is the unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone is the black soot on the shrine’s stone façade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles. And gone are fears about the stability of the old shrine, which hadn’t been restored in more than 200 years.

“If this intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund said Monday. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.”

The fund provided an initial $1.4 million for the $4 million restoration, thanks to a donation by the widow of the founder of Atlantic Records. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also chipped in about 150,000 euros each, along with other private and church donations, Burnham said.

The limestone and marble structure stands at the center of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest churches — a 12th-century building standing on 4th-century remains. The shrine needed urgent attention after years of exposure to environmental factors like water, humidity and candle smoke.

A Greek priest stands inside the renovated Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Jesus, in Jerusalem’s Old City, March 20, 2017. A Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and rose to heaven. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Three main Christian denominations jealously guard separate sections of the church, but they put aside their longstanding religious rivalries to give their blessing for the restoration. In 2015, Israeli police briefly shut down the building after Israel’s Antiquities Authority deemed it unsafe, and repairs began in June 2016.

A restoration team from the National Technical University of Athens stripped the stone slabs from the shrine’s façade and patched up the internal masonry of the shrine, injecting it with tubes of grout for reinforcement. Each stone slab was cleaned of candle soot and pigeon droppings, then put back in place. Titanium bolts were inserted into the structure for reinforcement, and frescos and the shrine’s painted dome were given a face-lift.

The restorers also made some discoveries.

On October 26, the team entered the inner sanctum of the shrine, the burial chamber of Jesus, and temporarily slid open an old marble layer covering the bedrock where Jesus’ body is said to have been placed.

Below the outer marble layer was a white rose marble slab engraved with a cross, which the team dated to the late Crusader period of the 14th century. Beneath that marble slab was an even older, grey marble slab protecting the bedrock, and mortar on the slab dates to the 4th century, when Roman Emperor Constantine ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built.

The restorers have cut a small window from the shrine’s marble walls for pilgrims to see — for the first time — the bare stone of the ancient burial cave.

“It seems we are in front of levels of history that are validated,” said Antonia Moropoulou, who supervised the renovation.

The team is dismantling its worksite ahead of a ceremony Wednesday to mark the completion of the renovation, in the presence of two representatives of dueling Christian denominations — Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and a representative of Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church.

Read More: Times of Israel