The Mission of The State of Palestine would like to share this report by B’Tselem, published on 17th August 2020.
The report details water pollution and shortages in Gaza, beginning with “two million Gazans suffer from a constant shortage of water, which gets worse in summer. The tap water is salty and polluted and is not fit for drinking. In the absence of other alternatives, residents are forced to use this water for bathing and washing, yet the supply is irregular and unpredictable. For drinking and cooking, they no choice to buy water privately – despite severe financial hardship – and even then it is usually substandard.”
Gaza relies on the coastal aquifer as its only water source. It has been polluted by over-pumping and wastewater contamination. As a result, 96.2% of household water from the aquifer is non-potable.
Israel’s economic siege which does not allow building materials for water infrastructure in Gaza is repeated bombing of existing water and sewage infrastructure and the collapsing aquifer means that dirty water is one of the leading causes of child mortality and poor health in Gaza.
The report contains personal testimonies:
“The tap water is very salty and not fit for human use. We have no choice but to use it for bathing, dishwashing and laundry.” – Hatem Hamed (53), a married father of six from a-Zawaydah
“Water is life and without water in my home, I feel hopeless and exhausted.” – Hala al-Kahlut (39), a married mother of four from the neighbourhood of a-Sheik Radwan in Gaza City
“I’m constantly thinking about the water problem. Even when I’m out of the house, I’m always in touch with my wife to make sure she turned on the pumps and to ask whether the power and water are on at the same time. We ration the water so we don’t run out.” – Hassan Abu Yusef (42), a married father of three from a-Nuseirat Refugee Camp
“Sometimes we stay up until dawn and wait for the electricity to come on so we can pump water to the roof. I set an alarm clock to wake up when both supplies are on at the same time, and then I’m exhausted the whole day. The tap water is so salty, you can make pickles with it. As soon as you open the faucet, you see that it’s dirty, salty and not fit for use. Still, we have no choice but to use it, even though it’s bad for us.” – Samira ‘Abd a-Salam (56), a married mother of seven from the neighbourhood of Tal al-Hawa in Gaza City
The World Health Organization has set the minimum requirement for daily per capita water consumption at 100 litres. This amount should cover basic domestic needs such as drinking, bathing, cooking, and washing. In Gaza, the average daily per capita consumption is only 88 litres; in Israel, by comparison, it is more than 200.
Ireland has invested significantly in the water infrastructure in Gaza, with €9 million going towards building a large solar-powered water purification and sewerage treatment plant.
This investment is much needed, but in the long term, the best way to end this problem is with the ending of the blockade, the ending of the occupation and the enactment of a peacefully negotiated two-state solution