Middle East

Israel: Minister leads prayers for rain to end drought

Orthodox Jews gather at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on 28 December 2017, to pray for rain. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The agriculture minister said he thought prayers could help resolve the crisis

Israel's Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel, has joined with the country's religious leaders in an attempt to use the power of prayer to end a drought.

Severe drought for four years has left water supplies at low levels.

Mr Ariel led prayers at Jerusalem's Western Wall. Critics said he should tackle the crisis more practically.

The drought has had a big impact on farming communities and caused Israel to become reliant on desalination plants on its Mediterranean coast.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Orthodox Jews gathered to pray for an end to the shortages

"We significantly lowered the cost of water, we are carrying out many studies on how to save water in different crops, but prayer can certainly help," Mr Ariel said.

The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth wrote: "Prayer is not a bad thing, but the minister has the ability to influence [matters] in slightly more earthly ways" - such as promoting policies to reduce climate change, it suggested.

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