TEL AVIV (Oct. 13)
An outbreak of cholera in Jordan and an ecological threat to the waters of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea were the subjects of appeals by Israelis to the Jordanian authorities today for mutual cooperation to avert the dangers.
About 35 cases of cholera were reported in Jordan as of yesterday, but no fatalities so far. The Jordanian government has reportedly begun a mass vaccination program. Health Minister Victor Shemtov called on Jordan today to cooperate with Israel in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.
The World Health Organization has confirmed the cholera outbreak. Israeli health authorities said there was no need for any special measures at present since Israel has maintained a strict cholera control program since the illness broke out here five years ago. However, special health checks will be made at the Jordan River bridges over which traffic moves daily between Jordan and the West Bank.
It is heaviest in the summer when Palestinian students from Jordan and other Arab countries are admitted to the West Bank to visit relatives. Health checks will also be made at the open fence on the Lebanese border to detect possible cholera infection.
EFFORTS TO HALT POLLUTION OF RIVER
The ecological problem poses a longer term danger. Israel’s water commissioner, Menahem Cantor, called on Jordan last night for joint action to save the historic river that flows between the two countries. Speaking at a symposium of the Israeli Ecology Society at Tel Aviv University. Cantor said the river was becoming dangerously polluted by sewage and poisonous chemical waste poured into it.
The Jordanians are damming the tributary rivers that flow into the Jordan thereby decreasing the flow of fresh water with disastrous results to the flora and fauna in the Jordan Valley, he said. The water level is declining in the Dead Sea which would be a dry salt bed without the inflow of Jordan River waters.
Cantor warned that unless Israel and Jordan make better use of the river in the future, an important regional source of fresh water will be destroyed. He said the two states must cooperate because neither can conduct a conservation plan without the other.