Jewish tradition connects the five books of Moses (the Torah) with water. For a healthy life, our sages say that you cannot go three days without either. Recently there have been many news stories from Israel on the theme of water – all focusing on the Israeli priority of saving or benefiting human life.
The main inspiration for this blog was this summary of the miracle of how the drought-ravished Jewish State overcame a full-blown water crisis by investing $4 billion between 2002 and 2010 to develop water technology that keeps its population and industries alive. Israel’s latest desalination plant, in Sorek, is now at full capacity, producing 627,000 cubic meters of drinking water daily. With the lowest rate of energy consumption in the world, its water is the cheapest and most efficient of any large-scale desalination plant. Israel has exported this knowledge worldwide. The San Diego desalination facility uses the reverse osmosis developed by Israel’s IDE Technologies, which has just opened a new office in the drought-ravished state of Texas. The Norwegian company, EnviroNor, is recruiting Israeli expertise to provide the water-processing technology necessary for its project to convert secondhand oil barges into floating desalination and wastewater treatment plants.
International interest in Israeli water technology has encouraged joint research between the USA’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev. And Sir Mark Walport - chief scientific adviser to the British Government mentioned the many Joint UK-Israeli water science projects being conducted at UK universities. And the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF) has certified the major product lines of Israel’s Amiad Water Systems. The NSF evaluated that the water produced by Amiad’s automatic self-cleaning screen and microfibre technology is safe for human consumption across the USA and Canada.
Locally, Israeli water technology is restoring the Besor-Hebron River flowing through Beer Sheva, which for decades had been polluted by untreated wastewater from Palestinian Arab towns. Now a 3-year project has been agreed between Israel, the PA and the Bedouin community to clean up the river. And please read about the water projects of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and its work with Bedouin communities, in its response to slanderous accusations in the New York Times.
You may also have missed the news that Israeli authorities helped alleviate flooding in Gaza from recent rains by transferring four pumps from the Palestinian Authority into the Gaza Strip (contrary to a fictitious report by the AFP news agency that Israel had opened dams). Israel has also doubled its supply of water to Gaza from 1.3 to 2.6 billion gallons, and was praised for doing so by visiting inspectors from the European Union.
There was little international recognition of the historic agreement signed by Israel and Jordan for the Red Sea-Dead Sea rescue pipeline project. The $800 million agreement authorizes the construction of a 65 to 80 million cubic meter capacity desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan that will produce fresh water to benefit both nations. Nor much fanfare for Israel’s Water Authority opening of a new treatment facility for wastewater from the city of Tiberias that will allow Christian pilgrims to baptize themselves in clean Jordan River water.
Israel also is involved in countering some of the dangers associated with water. Cyclone Pam has devastated the remote islands of Vanuatu, but already a multi-sector emergency response team from Israel-based IsraAID has arrived and is distributing drinking water. More Israeli aid teams are on their way. And should terrorists try to sabotage water systems, Jerusalem’s regional water & wastewater utility, Hagihon, has developed and installed one of the world’s most sophisticated security systems.
Israeli ingenuity has even developed medical treatments from water. IceSense3, developed by Israeli biotech IceCure Medical, uses frozen water (“cryoablation”) to destroy targeted tumors in less than 15 mins, with no pain. IceCure has just received a $21 million injection of funds from Epoch Partner Investments to speed up the sales and distribution of its IceSense3 system to treat breast cancer. And only Israeli scientists could have developed a “safe” virus to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria, from the wastewater of Jerusalem’s sewage system!
Water has also made a major contribution to Israel’s modern economic success. Israel’s underwater natural gas discoveries are now well known. However, you may not have realized that Israel’s location between two major oceans has given it a pivotal trading role in providing China with outlets to both the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. And who would have thought that Russia would be importing large quantities of high-quality Israeli sea salt from Israel’s Salt of the Earth to make the salt water for tinned tuna and salmon produced in Russia’s Vladivostok and Korsakov regions.
To conclude we dive beneath the water to wish a “mazel tov” to the members of the scuba diving club in Caesarea that discovered the largest trove of gold coins ever found off Israel's Mediterranean “gold” coast. The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the find of 2000 gold pieces, dating back more than 1000 years, was "so valuable that it's priceless".
And finally, even underwater, Israel’s life-changing scientific ingenuity surfaces - as demonstrated by the laying of the cornerstone of the new deep-sea research labs for Haifa’s Mediterranean Sea Research Center. The lab will develop underwater robots, vehicles, optics, acoustics and propulsion systems.
Israel – keeping humanity afloat!
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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