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Beach Erosion in Gaza, Palestine

Beach erosion in Gaza due to man-made structures, is a major issue in the densely populated strip. Many of these structures are in Gaza itself and were installed between 1972 and 2010 with no prior study.


In 2010, Egypt constructed a groin - a rigid structure that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment - on its side of Rafah. Which resulted, as of 2014, to around 12 meters of the coast being eroded on the Palestinian side of Rafah, according to aerial photos used by the municipality. [1][6] According to the Health and Environment Department for Rafah municipality, the seawater advanced deep into the residential area with the coastline expected to be fully eroded and seawater submerging the residents’ homes in the next 10 years. The negative effects caused by the groin are being felt over a stretch of 6 Km. [1][6] Cooperation with the Egyptian authorities to mitigate this problem is also proving to be difficult as there is no communication between the municipality and its Egyptian counterpart. With Egypt seemingly disregarding international conventions that require communication and coordination between countries that share bodies of water and call for controlling pollution and the destruction of the marine environment. [1] A study by the Civil Engineering Department of The Islamic University of Gaza studied the impact of sea groins in the Egyptian side of Rafah on the erosion of the beaches of the southern area of the Gaza strip using remote sensing and GIS. The analysis of satellite observations for the coast of Rafah for the period between 2008 and 2016 showed the change in patterns of erosion. The net change in the area of Rafa is around 71 dunam (71000 m2) of sand at a rate of -8.9 dunam/year, confirming previous studies that the mean net change is 3.7m/year. But this event is not isolated, despite the difficulty in coordinating with the relevant Egyptian authorities. Beach erosion in Gaza due to man-made structures, is a major issue in the densely populated strip. Many of these structures are in Gaza itself and were installed between 1972 and 2010 with no prior study. In early 1972 two 120m-long groins were built 500m apart in Gaza city. Sand accumulation occurred south of the southern groin. On the other hand, erosion took place north of the northern groin. The erosion was then controlled by a series of nine detached breakwaters built in 1978. In 1994, the construction of fishery port was started by building the main breakwater in between the two initial groins (early 1972) extended some 500m into the sea. The construction of the fishing port caused the accumulation of sand at the southern fringe of the port. [3][4] Many solutions were proposed by the authorities to try and solve this problem. Dr. Mazen Abu al-Tayef, Head of the Environmental Engineering in the Islamic University of Gaza stated that wave breakers should be installed parallel to the shore and that the beach can also be protected by “soft solutions”: bringing new sand to be placed at the shore. [5] A study by the Environmental Engineering Department at Islamic University of Gaza studied the different mitigation measures for Gaza’s ongoing coastal erosion. They were able to model the sediment transport on different solutions like an offshore fishing harbor, detached breakwater, submerged breakwaters, and groins. The numerical model was able to demonstrate the impacts of various wave climates for the suggested beach protection alternatives. With results showing that the offshore harbor is the best alternative. [3] Despite these efforts there seem to be no political will to implement the proposed solutions by many engineers. As Dr. Mazen Abu al-Tayef said: “first, there has to be a political solution; such a problem can't be solved without removing the said Gaza port and be, later, rebuilt.”

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Beach Erosion in Gaza, Palestine
State or province:Rafah Governorate
Location of conflict:Rafah
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Project Details and Actors
Project details

A groin is a curved marine structure on the shoreline or a deep coastal outlet. It may be natural or artificial and protects a port or a shoreline from erosion. However, it has several negative consequences, as it increases beach erosion elsewhere and causes water advances toward residential areas.

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Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:15/07/2010
Relevant government actors:Rafah Municipality - Health and Environment Department
Environment Protection Department of Gaza's Environment Quality Authority
Ministry of Environment Affairs
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Islamic University of Gaza:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Areal photos showing damage
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsBeach Erosion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of recreational activities
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:Engineering solutions were proposed to solve the damage caused by the Gaza fishing harbor including:
The relocation of Gaza fishing harbor to offshore, groins, detached breakwaters, wide-crested submerged breakwaters and beach nourishment. With the relocation seeming to be the most effective solution
As for the specific case of Rafah authorities point out that this problem has two possible solutions. The first is to remove the artificial groin — and this is in the hands of the Egyptian side — while the second solution is to compensate for the eroded part using cement and other hard materials, which is a very expensive solution that the Rafah municipality cannot afford.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the many solutions that can be implemented nothing is being done to prevent this problem.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4] - Time Series Analysis of Gaza Strip Shoreline using Remote Sensing and GIS
[click to view]

[click to view]

[2] - The Impact of Sea Groins in the Egyptian Side of Rafah on the Erosion of the Beaches of the Southern Area of the Gaza Strip Using Remote Sensing and GIS
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[5] - Gaza Beach Erosion.. Environmental Crisis indeed
[click to view]

[6] - Rafah's beach could disappear in 10 years (Arabic)
[click to view]

[1] - Egyptian construction threatens to obliterate Rafah's beaches
[click to view]

Other documents

Areal Photo of Rafah's Beach on 15-7-2010رفح-قد-تصبح-بلا-شاطئ-خلال-10-سنوات
[click to view]

PowerPoint Presentation about the Issue Sediment transport and Coastal Erosion - Environmental Health

Al-Azhar University - Gaza
[click to view]

Areal Photo of Rafah's Beach on 29-7-2014رفح-قد-تصبح-بلا-شاطئ-خلال-10-سنوات
[click to view]

Coastal infrastructure built on Gaza's shoreline
[click to view]

Rafah's beach erosion
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update09/02/2018
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