Israeli billionaire and philanthropist Michael Mirilashvili, who was born in the nation of Georgia, reportedly is aiming to deliver hundreds of generators to the Gaza Strip that produce water out of air.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that Mirilashvili’s company Watergen created a device that is able to produce 200 gallons of water a day through converting moisture into potable water. He donated one of the machines to Al-Rantisi Medical Center in Gaza City; it was installed on the roof so it could operate through solar panels.
The machine now provides drinking water for the hospital’s pediatric cancer patients.
Mirilashvili told the AP that he thinks that the Watergen machine can solve Gaza’s water crisis and he plans to sell them to areas of Gaza at a significant discount.
“They [Gazans] are our neighbors and it’s a great pity to look at them suffering from such severe water shortages,” he said.
Fayez Husseini, who runs solar and water businesses in Gaza, told the AP that he first suggested to Mirilashvili that he donate the Watergen device to the Gaza hospital.
“I think both sides need to take electricity and drinking water off the table,” Husseini said. “This should not be part of politics.”
Gaza is heavily dependent on an aquifer for drinking water, but 97% of it has become undrinkable because sea water has seeped into it. Gazans also rely on private waters to desalinate water, but most of it is contaminated because the lack of electricity in Gaza has made it difficult for sewage to be removed from seawater.
Some blame the Israeli blockade for creating the water and electricity shortages in Gaza; according to Jewish Virtual Library, Israel routinely provides humanitarian aid — including electricity and water — to Gazans; Israel delivers around 3 billion gallons of water a year to Gaza.
It took the Israeli military bureaucracy more than a year to approve Mirilashvili’s first delivery of the Watergen machine to Gaza; the device initially was delivered to an undisclosed town in southern Gaza for a different matter.
Mirilashvili owns several casinos, hotels and real estate; he spent eight years in a Russian prison on kidnapping charges but was released in 2008 after the European Court of Human Rights concluded that Mirilashvili didn’t have a fair trial.