GAZA - From Sewage Dump to Nature Reserve

Arno Froese

The United Nations is set to begin the restoration of a historic valley in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, hoping to transform it from a landfill and sewage dump into a vibrant nature reserve in a planned $66 million project.

The Gaza Valley, home to a variety of plants and animals, is one of the largest wetland areas in the territory.

It stretches 105 kms (65 miles) from the Israeli Negev desert up to southern Hebron in the West Bank and for nine kms (5.5 miles) across the Gaza Strip to the Mediterranean Sea.

“It is a full project to develop this site and to turn it from an unhealthy wastewater dump into a place people of Gaza can visit and into a tourist site,” said Mohammed Abu Shaaban, the UNDP’s project coordinator.

The two-phase project will take several years to complete, said Abu Shaaban. The first funds to come through, $1.3 million from Belgium, will go towards the initial cleanup which is expected to take around four months.

For the past few months, a new water treatment station in central Gaza has allowed treated water to flow into the valley, improving the habitat of dozens of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

In the longer term, the restoration also aims to benefit the people of Gaza, with camping sites, cafes and educational and recreational centers along the valley route., 7 February 2022

Arno's Commentary

In August to September 2005, Israel unilaterally vacated Gaza, leaving behind significantly developed agricultural and other industries.

In January of 2006, Gaza elected Hamas as their political leaders, which resulted in 4 wars within a 13-year span. AP News estimates the cost of those wars to be $5.7 billion.

Obviously, the citizens of Gaza have suffered tremendously. Apparently, the lesson has not been fully learned, because Israel has to spend billions to defend their citizens from Hamas attacks from Gaza.

Approximately 3 million people live in the Gaza Strip, of which 80-85% are Sunni Muslim. Life expectancy stands at 76.2 years. 

According to the Times of Israel, UN agencies spent close to $4.5 billion in support of Gaza from 2014 to 2020. However, the money was not used wisely for the benefit of the people.

Gaza was the epicenter of Israel fiercest enemy, the Philistines. It looks very similar even in these days, although anthropologists reveal that the Arab Palestinians are not the descendants of the Philistines.

The prophet Amos says: “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom” (Amos 1:6).

In the New Testament, Gaza is mentioned only once: in Acts 8, where Philip evangelizes an Ethiopian treasurer: “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship” (verses 26-27). The result of that meeting is recorded in verses 38-39: “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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