EXCLUSIVE: Israel to boost fresh water supply in Gaza with plant upgrade as UN warns it may suspend aid

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EXCLUSIVE: Israel to boost fresh water supply in Gaza with plant upgrade as UN warns it may suspend aid

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EXCLUSIVE – As the United Nations threatens to suspend aid to operations across the Gaza Strip, Fox News Digital has exclusively learned that Israel plans to activate a desalination plant that will increase fresh water access in the region.

“Israel will increase the electricity supply to the desalination facility in Khan Yunis by building new electricity power lines,” an Israeli security official told Fox News Digital. 

“This will re-enable the desalination facility established with UNICEF funding in 2017 to provide drinking water to areas in Deir al-Balah, Khan Yunis and the Mawasi area – a potential solution for hundreds of thousands of residents throughout the Strip,” the official explained. 

The government-backed plan awaits final approval, but once in operation, the plant will provide approximately 20,000 cubic meters of water a day for residents – a massive increase from its current capacity of 1,500 cubic meters, which the officials blamed on a “lack of capacity to maximize” generator activity. 

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Israel will further empower the desalination plant in Khan Yunis to vastly improve the water supply to the Gaza Strip. (Obtained by Fox News Digital)

“The power line would enable the required 5 megawatts of electricity, which can be provided through the power line that will be connected and provided by Israel,” the official said. “Along with the new power line, the Israeli military would allow the international community and NGOs to bring in equipment and conduct infrastructure works that will regulate the power line operation for the desalination facility after a mandatory security inspection.”

The official could not elaborate on how much this project would cost or whether it indicates that Israel will look to empower or establish additional desalination plants to further increase water output. The official stressed, however, that the plant in Khan Yunis is the “biggest plant” in the region.  

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Gaza Strip water

The Khan Younis waste water treatment plant. (UNDP)

As part of their activities since the beginning of the war in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories will be involved in the operation to lay the additional lines and ensure security, so the plant can function without fear of interruption. 

The plant would provide welcome assistance as the U.N. on Tuesday warned Israel that the organization would have to suspend its aid operations across Gaza unless Israel could provide better protection for humanitarian workers – the latest effort to convince Israel to better focus its strikes and assist with growing lawlessness in the region.

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Gaza pier with aid trucks passing through

Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the United States Agency for International Development cross the Trident Pier before entering the beach in Gaza on May 17, 2024. (Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley/U.S. Army Central via AP)

U.N. officials clarified that there has been no final decision and talks remain ongoing as they seek a solution to their concerns. 

U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York that U.N. humanitarian coordinator Muhannad Hadi had written to the Israeli military on June 17 and the U.N.’s undersecretary for security, Gilles Michaud, spoke with Israeli military officials Monday.

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Dujarric called conditions for aid workers in the territory “increasingly intolerable.” But he said the U.N. was “pushing all its contacts” with the Israelis to resolve the problems and noted that “the U.N. will not turn its back on the people of Gaza.”

Fox News’ Yonat Friling and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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