Prices Rise As Drought Conditions Worsen In Israel It's been the hottest year on record in Israel and other parts of the Middle East, and it's set to become one of the driest. The much anticipated November rains did not arrive. And the drought is causing all sorts of problems.

Prices Rise As Drought Conditions Worsen In Israel

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Unidentified Man #1: (Singing in foreign language)

LOURDES GARCIA: Avital, from Jerusalem, was praying for rain, and she says God's blessing is important.

AVITAL: We hope it will help. We also need to be good if we want it to help.

GARCIA: But so far, there's no rain in the forecast. Israel's rainy season is short. It normally begins in November, but that month has come and gone. And in normally chilly autumnal Jerusalem, temperatures are still hitting 80 degrees. That may sound appealing for those suffering through winter weather elsewhere, but it's wreaking havoc here.


GARCIA: At Jerusalem's main market, prices, says vegetable seller Yitzak Shimon, are going through the roof.

YITZAK SHIMON: (Through translator) There's been a problem with apples, potatoes and cucumbers, and the price of fruit was very expensive. The problem is that there's not much water, and the farmers have exceeded their quota.

GARCIA: Cows are producing 50 percent less milk, says dairy seller Eitan Edri.

EITAN EDRI: We must wait for the temperature will go down, then we will have milk. It's hot. The summer's supposed to over one month ago.

GARCIA: Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) No milk today. My life has gone away.


GARCIA: And it's not only humans who are reacting to the weather.

AMIR BALABAN: We are seeing the habitats, the animals, the plants in many peculiar situations.

GARCIA: Amir Balaban is a wildlife expert.

BALABAN: A lot of desert birds are shifting and moving up northward, and actually coming into Mediterranean habitats where once, we couldn't see them. For example, this week we've observed a Desert Swallow, and suddenly it's in Jerusalem. And this is worrying sign because that means the habitat is changing.

GARCIA: Nader al-Khatib is the Palestinian director of Friends of the Earth. He says Palestinians are far worse off than Israelis. On average, Palestinians receive half the World Health Organization's recommended supply of water per person, per day. He says it's imperative to come up with a regional and equitable solution to what is becoming a serious, long-term crisis.

NADER AL: It is a catastrophic situation. Each of us lives the drama of water supply every day. No exception.

GARCIA: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro NPR News, Jerusalem.



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