Sunday, September 6

Unconscionable inhumanity: 90% of water in Gaza Strip is undrinkable

More than 90 percent of the 

Gaza Strip's water is 

undrinkable. The rest is quickly 

running out. A combination 

of factors is rapidly depriving 

the population of this most 

basic of needs. RT investigated day-to-day life under these 


RT - 

Just one fresh water source exists today, according to 

the locals - a coastal aquifer beneath the ground that is 

shared with Israel and Egypt. But Gaza is situated 

downstream from Israel, and Palestinians accuse the 

Jewish state of using the situation to its advantage, 

employing water deprivation as a tactic against the 

civilian population.

The grim water statistics are part of a recent UN report on 

Gaza, which says the strip will become uninhabitable by 

2020. A number of reasons compound the problems, 

according to the document by the United Nations 

Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

The Gaza Strip's GDP dropped 15 percent in 2014, with 72 

percent of households suffering extremely low food security 

and unemployment at a record high of 44 percent. Further 

stress was added by relentless IDF assaults. With three 

military operations in the last six years, coupled with eight 

years of economic blockade, prospects for recovery are 

looking very bleak. 

The UN says that 500,000 people have been displaced in

Gaza as a result of last year's IDF operation alone. More 

than 20,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed, and 148 

schools and 15 hospitals and 45 primary health-care 

centers were severely damaged. Gaza is one of the most 

densely populated areas in the world. 

But worse still is when the populace is deprived of the prime 

source of life - water. Without it, no reconstruction and no 

rebuilding of lives can take place. Medicine, sanitation, 

hygiene and crucial facilities that depend on water all suffer. 

RT investigated the extent of the hardship under these 


"We can't drink it, cook with it, or wash in the kitchen with it... 

we are forced to buy all the clean water separately," said 

Umm Ibrahim Amna Abdel'al, as she stood in her kitchen, 

little more four bare cement walls and a sink. 

A delivery pickup truck trundled through the streets outside 

with a water tank sitting in the back. 

"The last war on Gaza, of course, resulted in the 

destruction of some of the infrastructure, the water 

holes and the pumping stations were [heavily hit.] More 

than 50 percent of the water infrastructure could not be 

accessed," said Mahmoud Elkhafif, UNCTAD's special 

coordinator for assistance to the Palestinian people. 

"Part, of course, vanished," he added. 

RT's Lizzie Phelan tasted what remains of the Strip's water 

for herself: "This coffee tastes like it has salt not sugar in it. 

That's because the water that's used to wash it - like much 

of Gaza's water - is contaminated with sea water." 

The woman went on to describe how "tiny kids suffer 

from cramps and colic" - a syndrome commonly 

associated with stomach infections. 

"See my hand?" she pointed to the irritated skin on her palm. 

"It is because of the salty water. I have a skin infection. The 

water is full of salt. It is like sewage." 

And salt isn't the only problem. The water coming into 

homes is also full of nitrate - a carcinogenic. The levels rose

 even higher last year, during Israel's bombardment of 

sewage pipes and clean water pipes. Now, the two 

chemicals have mixed. 

But even though the water is filthy, Gazans pay an 

exorbitantly for it. 

Elkhafif put it bluntly: "Gaza suffers a catastrophic issue 

with water quality and water supply. And it's a shame on 

the world that they are still watching this." 

Unless the situation is resolved, the Strip stands on the brink 

of a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe much greater than 

any airstrikes can cause.

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