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