05/14/2012 22:23
Experts recommend complete enclosure of Israel to prevent migration, in report on adaptation to climate change.

To combat increased waves of illegal migration that will likely accompany climate change, Israel must secure its borders with impassable barriers, including “sea fences” along the Mediterranean and Red seas, experts have concluded.

“The lack of water, warming and sea-level rise, even if it will occur on a different schedule, will bring migration movements from all impoverished regions to every place where it is possible to escape this,” wrote a team of academics, led by Prof. Arnon Soffer and Dr.

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Anton Berkovsky of the University of Haifa’s Geography Department.

The team’s conclusions appeared in just one “geo-strategy” chapter in a nearly 200- page report of recommendations toward adapting to climate change, submitted collectively by about 100 experts at the Israel Climate Change Knowledge Center to Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan on Monday.

Established in 2011 by the ministry, the center aims to gather scientific knowledge in seven areas: regional climatic forecasting, affects of climate change on the water sector, urban planning and building, public health, biodiversity, the economy, and regional geo-strategic issues, according to the ministry.

After receiving analyses by expert teams, who had already submitted a preliminary report in December, the ministry would then intend to incorporate the information into its policy documents in order to formulate a national plan toward adapting to climate change.

Among its suggestions for how to handle the geo-strategic implications of climate change, the team led by Soffer called for a complete enclosure of Israel from all directions, including establishing sea fences along the Mediterranean and Red seas.

Moreover, the experts said that additional law enforcement resources will be required to deal with the ramifications of securing the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, as an economic crisis might ensue for Negev Beduin who trade across those lines. While securing Israel from all sides, however, the authorities must ensure the safe passage of animals and plants.

“The migration wave is not a problem for the future. It is today; it is going on now,” Soffer told The Jerusalem Post on Monday evening. “It will just increase from day to day.”

He explained that the most troublesome spot in terms of migration to Israel is the Nile basin area, where a mixture of drastic climate changes and demographic explosions are pushing people northward. They recognize that “Europe is completely under siege by the navies,” so they cannot move in that direction, he said.

“In India, they shoot; in Nepal, they shoot; in Japan, they shoot,” Soffer said, adding that in Israel, the refugees know they can find welcome.

Due to climate change, during the 1970s and the 1980s alone, the water in the Nile basin fell from 84 billion cubic meters to 51 billion cubic meters, and while its waters returned to normal for the decade that followed, since 2000, catastrophe has ensued, according to Soffer.

Likewise, in the past decade, about 800 lakes have dried up completely in Africa, including Chad’s largest one – a phenomenon that has led to “terrible tragedies,” he explained.

“Millions perished along the Sahel,” he said, referring to a semiarid zone that stretches from Senegal to Eritrea, bordered by the Sahara on the north and a savannah on the south.

“It’s the deterioration of Africa,” the professor said.

Also trying to penetrate Israel’s borders due to intense climate change will be Jordanians, Palestinians and perhaps some Syrians, according to Soffer.

“I can see how the desert will penetrate slowly to Kiryat Gat, Gaza and Hebron – everywhere,” he said. “If you accept what the scientists are saying, then there will be no question that people will be forced to leave the Negev.”

Within Israel proper, many Beduin communities have moved en masse out of the Negev and to the country’s center, a shift that many people along Israel’s borders might replicate as their climates become unbearable, Soffer explained.

“Why are they coming to the North? Either because of population explosion or because of water loss,” he said. “This is a microcosm of what is going on between the border of the Mediterranean climate and the semiarid zone.”

In Syria, there is a direct correlation between the areas where the rebellions began and places where there is shortage of water, Soffer added.

“I am one that fights for building fences all around Israeli borders,” he said.

“We are an island – we don’t belong to this region, and we have to defend Israel from waves of migration from Egypt from Jordan and maybe from Syria. If we want to keep Israel a Jewish state, we will have to defend ourselves from what I call ‘climate refugees,’ exactly as Europe is doing now,” he said.

As Israel continues to increase its desalination of water, however, Soffer stressed the importance of providing the Palestinians and the Jordanians with sources of water, saying that “maybe this will bring peace.”

While the fences around Israel are necessary, according to Soffer, so too are corridors to allow the free passage of animals.

Such passages could be monitored by soldiers for days at a time to allow the animals, such as snakes, to cross both ways.

Soffer said he was not worried about the global response to physically securing Israel’s borders, and stressed that Europe has been making entrance to immigrants extremely difficult for quite some time.

“I have to satisfy the Israeli citizens, to be human as much as I can,” he said. “Whatever I do, we will not be as cruel as Europe. They have huge navies; they sink boats; they send them back.”

Other expert teams call for requiring that buildings meet green standards when their owners purchase insurance policies, as well as putting in place an energy-rating system for buildings during their sale.

Other teams called for increased use of recycled gray water, while still others recommended preparing treatment regimens for victims of future cold and heat waves. Experts wrote of increased temperatures, decreased precipitation, southern desertification and extreme flooding.

“Climate change is already here and requires comprehensive preparations,” Erdan said, upon receiving the report.

“These changes have social, economic, security and ecological implications that require changes in behavioral patterns of individuals, industry and the state in order to minimize the potential damage.”