Geography of the State of Palestine

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Geography of the State of Palestine refers to the geographic, climatic and other properties of the State of Palestine.

Physiographic regions[edit]

The terrain of the Gaza Strip is flat or rolling, with dunes near the coast. The highest point is Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Auda), at 105 meters (344 ft) above sea level.

The terrain of the West Bank is mostly rugged dissected upland, with some vegetation in the west, but somewhat barren in the east. The elevation span reaches from a low on the northern shore of the Dead Sea at 429 m below sea level,[1] to the highest point at Mount Nabi Yunis at 1,030 m (3,379 ft) above sea level.[2] The area of West Bank is landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers.

Geology[edit]

The coastal plain of Gaza is composed of sand dunes and fertile sandy sediments. Except for a porous calcareous sandstone called kurkar in Arabic, there are no other rocks in this region. In contrast, the West Bank is dominated by low mountains: Mount Gerizim (881m), Nabi Samwil (890m), and Mount Scopus (826m). The rocks are principally composed of marine sediments (limestone and dolomite). The porosity of these rocks permits water to filter down to the non-porous strata, which supply water to the numerous aquifers in the region.[3]

Tectonics and seismic activity[edit]

The Jordan Valley is a segment of the Dead Sea Transform, a continuation of the Great Rift Valley which separates the African Plate from the Arabian Plate. The entire segment is thought to have ruptured repeatedly, for instance during the earthquake of 749 and again in 1033, the most recent major earthquake along this structure. The deficit in slip that has built up since the 1033 event is sufficient to cause an earthquake of Mw~7.4.[4]

The tectonic disposition of Palestine on the margin of the Dead Sea Transform has left it exposed to relatively frequent earthquakes, the most destructive of which were those of 31 BCE, 363, 749, and 1033. For a detailed list see here.

Rivers and lakes[edit]

The River Jordan is the largest river in Palestine, forming the eastern boundary of the West Bank, until it flows into the Dead Sea. Friends of the Earth Middle East reports that on the one hand up to 96% of the river's fresh water is diverted by Israel, Jordan and Syria, while on the other hand large quantities of untreated sewage are being discharged into the river.[5] A 2013 report by Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq found that Israel routinely denies access for Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley to the river.[6]

The Dead Sea is the largest body of water in Palestine, while the valley of Marj Sanur forms a seasonal lake.[7]

A number of ephemeral streams, in Arabic called wadis, flow into the Jordan River or Dead Sea through the West Bank, including Wadi Og, Wadi Fa'rah and Wadi Qelt. Others flow through Israel and into the Mediterranean Sea, such as Hadera Stream and Wadi Kabiba.

Climate[edit]

The climate in the West Bank is mostly Mediterranean, slightly cooler at elevated areas compared with the shoreline, west to the area. In the east, the West Bank includes much of the Judean Desert including the western shoreline of the Dead Sea, characterised by dry and hot climate.

Gaza has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSh) with mild winters and dry hot summers.[8] Spring arrives around March–April and the hottest months are July and August, with the average high being 33 °C (91 °F). The coldest month is January with temperatures usually at 7 °C (45 °F). Rain is scarce and generally falls between November and March, with annual precipitation rates approximately at 4.57 inches (116 mm).[9]

Climate data for Gaza
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 17
(62)
17
(63)
20
(69)
26
(78)
29
(84)
31
(89)
33
(91)
33
(91)
31
(88)
28
(83)
24
(75)
19
(65)
26
(78)
Average low °C (°F) 7
(45)
7
(45)
9
(49)
13
(55)
15
(60)
18
(65)
20
(69)
21
(70)
19
(66)
17
(62)
12
(54)
8
(47)
14
(57)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 76
(2.99)
49
(1.93)
37
(1.46)
6
(0.24)
3
(0.12)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
14
(0.55)
46
(1.81)
70
(2.76)
301
(11.86)
Source: Weatherbase [10]
Climate data for Jericho
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 19.0
(66.2)
20.6
(69.1)
24.4
(75.9)
29.5
(85.1)
34.4
(93.9)
37.0
(98.6)
38.6
(101.5)
37.9
(100.2)
35.8
(96.4)
32.7
(90.9)
28.1
(82.6)
21.4
(70.5)
30.0
(86)
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.7
(51.3)
12.6
(54.7)
16.3
(61.3)
22.4
(72.3)
26.6
(79.9)
30.4
(86.7)
30.9
(87.6)
30.4
(86.7)
28.6
(83.5)
25.8
(78.4)
22.8
(73)
16.9
(62.4)
22.9
(73.2)
Average low °C (°F) 4.4
(39.9)
5.9
(42.6)
9.6
(49.3)
13.6
(56.5)
18.2
(64.8)
20.2
(68.4)
21.9
(71.4)
21.1
(70)
20.5
(68.9)
17.6
(63.7)
16.6
(61.9)
11.6
(52.9)
15.1
(59.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 59
(2.32)
44
(1.73)
20
(0.79)
4
(0.16)
1
(0.04)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(0.04)
2
(0.08)
3
(0.12)
5
(0.2)
65
(2.56)
204
(8.03)
Average relative humidity (%) 77 81 74 62 49 50 51 57 52 56 54 74 61
Mean monthly sunshine hours 189.1 186.5 244.9 288.0 362.7 393.0 418.5 396.8 336.0 294.5 249.0 207.7 3,566.7
Mean daily sunshine hours 6.1 6.6 7.9 9.6 11.7 13.1 13.5 12.8 11.2 9.5 8.3 6.7 9.8
Source: Arab Meteorology Book[11]
Climate data for Jerusalem (1881–2007)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 23.4
(74.1)
25.3
(77.5)
27.6
(81.7)
35.3
(95.5)
37.2
(99)
36.8
(98.2)
40.6
(105.1)
44.4
(111.9)
37.8
(100)
33.8
(92.8)
29.4
(84.9)
26.0
(78.8)
44.4
(111.9)
Average high °C (°F) 11.8
(53.2)
12.6
(54.7)
15.4
(59.7)
21.5
(70.7)
25.3
(77.5)
27.6
(81.7)
29.0
(84.2)
29.4
(84.9)
28.2
(82.8)
24.7
(76.5)
18.8
(65.8)
14.0
(57.2)
21.5
(70.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.1
(48.4)
9.5
(49.1)
11.9
(53.4)
17.1
(62.8)
20.5
(68.9)
22.7
(72.9)
24.2
(75.6)
24.5
(76.1)
23.4
(74.1)
20.7
(69.3)
15.6
(60.1)
11.2
(52.2)
17.53
(63.58)
Average low °C (°F) 6.4
(43.5)
6.4
(43.5)
8.4
(47.1)
12.6
(54.7)
15.7
(60.3)
17.8
(64)
19.4
(66.9)
19.5
(67.1)
18.6
(65.5)
16.6
(61.9)
12.3
(54.1)
8.4
(47.1)
13.5
(56.3)
Record low °C (°F) −6.7
(19.9)
−2.4
(27.7)
−0.3
(31.5)
0.8
(33.4)
7.6
(45.7)
11.0
(51.8)
14.6
(58.3)
15.5
(59.9)
13.2
(55.8)
9.8
(49.6)
1.8
(35.2)
0.2
(32.4)
−6.7
(19.9)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 133.2
(5.244)
118.3
(4.657)
92.7
(3.65)
24.5
(0.965)
3.2
(0.126)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.3
(0.012)
15.4
(0.606)
60.8
(2.394)
105.7
(4.161)
554.1
(21.815)
Average rainy days 12.9 11.7 9.6 4.4 1.3 0 0 0 0.3 3.6 7.3 10.9 62.0
Average relative humidity (%) 61 59 52 39 35 37 40 40 40 42 48 56 45.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 192.2 243.6 226.3 267.0 331.7 381.0 384.4 365.8 309.0 275.9 228.0 192.2 3,397.1
Source #1: Israel Meteorological Service[12][13]
Source #2: Hong Kong Observatory for data of sunshine hours[14]

Natural resources[edit]

Natural resources of Palestine include mud extracts from the Dead Sea,[15] such as magnesium, potash and bromine. However, these resources are monopolised by Israeli settlements; the Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka reported in 2015 that the added value access to these natural resources could have delivered to the economy was $918 million per annum.[16]

Palestine also includes many rich gas fields in the maritime zone of the Gaza Strip; however, since these were discovered in the year 2000, they have not been exploited, due to Israel restricting the maritime zone of Gaza from 3 to 6 nautical miles offshore as part of the siege of Gaza.[17]

Environment[edit]

Palestine has a number of environmental issues; issues facing the Gaza Strip include desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne diseases; soil degradation; and depletion and contamination of underground water resources. In the West Bank, many of the same issues apply; although fresh water is much more plentiful, access is restricted by the ongoing occupation of Palestine.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Griffiths, Sarah (5 January 2015). "Slow death of the Dead Sea: Levels of salt water are dropping by one metre every year". Daily Mail. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  2. ^ A house demolished, three others threatened in the town of Halhul - 24,March,2007, POICA. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  3. ^ Palestine & Palestinians. Beit Sahour, Palestine: Alternative Tourism Group. 2008. p. 18. ISBN 9950-319-01-3. 
  4. ^ Ferry M.; Meghraoui M.; Karaki A.A.; Al-Taj M.; Amoush H.; Al-Dhaisat S.; Barjous M. (2008). "A 48-kyr-long slip rate history for the Jordan Valley segment of the Dead Sea Fault". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 260 (3—4): 394–406. Bibcode:2007E&PSL.260..394F. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2007.05.049. 
  5. ^ http://foeme.org/www/?module=projects&project_id=23
  6. ^ a b http://www.alhaq.org/publications/Water-For-One-People-Only.pdf
  7. ^ Zertal, Adam (2004). The Manasseh Hill Country Survey: The Shechem Syncline. BRILL. p. 36. 
  8. ^ "Gaza". Global Security. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  9. ^ "Monthly Averages for Gaza, Gaza Strip". MSN Weather. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  10. ^ "Weatherbase: Climate Information for Gaza". Weatherbase. 
  11. ^ "Appendix I: Meteorological Data" (PDF). Springer. Retrieved October 25, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Long Term Climate Information for Israel". June 2011. 
  13. ^ "Record Data in Israel". 
  14. ^ "Climatological Information for Jerusalem, Israel". Hong Kong Observatory. 
  15. ^ "Israel's Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory". Al Haq. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2016. By granting substantial financial benefits to the settlers, as well as by licensing Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., 44.5 per cent of whose shares are owned by the settlements of 'Mitzpe Shalem' and 'Kalia,' to mine and manufacture products that utilise the mud extracted from the occupied Dead Sea area, Israel is openly in violation of its obligations as an Occupying Power in the OPT. It is encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and actively assisting their pillaging by private actors. 
  16. ^ "Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy" (PDF). World Bank. 3 3 October 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2016. The Dead Sea abounds in valuable minerals, principally large deposits of potash and bromine. Israel and Jordan together derive some USD 4.2 billion in annual sales of these products, and account for 6 percent of the world's supply of potash and fully 73 percent of global bromine output. Demand for both these products is projected to remain strong, with the Dead Sea a cheap and easily exploited source. There is no reason to suppose that Palestinian investors along with prospective international partners would not be able to reap the benefits of this market, provided they were able to access the resource. Taking as a benchmark the average value added by these industries to the Jordanian and the Israeli economies, the Palestinian economy could derive up to USD 918 million per annum –equal to 9 percent of 2011 GDP, almost equivalent to the size of the entire Palestinian manufacturing sector  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. ^ Charlotte Silver (22 December 2015). "Israel's sea blockade of Gaza motivated by gas finds". Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 3 January 2016. In 2000, around the same time that the Gaza gas fields were found, Israel discovered Mari-B, a gas field located at the maritime border with Gaza. Since then, Israel has accelerated the militarization of Gaza's waters, ostensibly to protect its own valuable resources – while sabotaging any possibility that Palestinians can access theirs. Israel's violent restriction of Gaza's maritime zone to 3 to 6 nautical miles beyond the coast began in 2000, the report states, though it was not officially established until January 2009..