Tag Archive | "Gaza: No water to flush the toilet"

Surrounded by the Mediterranean’s Water, But Nothing From the Faucets to Drink


A barefoot boy drags a basket holding a container of water down a Gaza City street, Aug. 21, 2017. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)


Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,October 2017, pp. 16-17

Gaza on the Ground

By Mohammed Omer

“IN MY APARTMENT, I have no water to flush the toilet,” says 41-year-old Abu Jaber, a PA employee who lives in Gaza. “Can you believe this?” He goes on to describe how, for the past week, in the unbearable heat of August, there has been no water supply to his residence.

He must buy all his drinking water, and carry it up to his ninth-floor apartment overlooking the beach. Lots of southern Mediterranean Sea water to look at through the window, but no clean fresh water in his water tank for drinking and basic hygiene—the result of ongoing power outages of up to 23 hours a day following PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ request that Israel cut its power supply to Gaza from 120 megawatts to 48 megawatts a day (see Aug./Sept. 2017 Washington Report, p. 10).

Some Gaza residents have tried to get around the problem by digging 30 to 40 meters underground to build their own water wells—a risky project which not only costs $4,000 to $5,000, but further depletes the already scarce aquifer water reserves.

This, however, is not an option for Abu Jaber, living as he does in a city filled with high-rise apartment buildings. And even if it were, without electricity, he couldn’t pump the water up to his apartment.

Abu Jaber knows that, with his connection to the Ramallah-based PA, most Gazans view him as a member of the elite. While it’s true that he is able to occasionally enjoy a cold drink on the terrace of a famous hotel in Ramallah, the next evening finds him back in his Gaza apartment without water to flush the toilet.

“We live in a mad world,” he told the Washington Report. “We are only 30 miles away from Israel, but observe a huge difference in quality of life and human rights. God never said we should endure such an inhumane life—I can no longer stand it!”

Most Gazans buy water from water trucks that roam the streets—but that water is for drinking and costs 15 to 20 times more than water from Gaza’s pipeline network. It would be unheard of to purchase this drinking water for toilet use—but Abu Jaber has no other option. Each 1,000 liters of drinking water costs Abu Jaber 25 NIS (about $7)—money that should be spent on supplies for his children’s coming school year.

At least he is lucky that he can afford it, since 80 percent of Gaza’s 2 million residents cannot, forced instead to rely on charities for their basic living expenses.

Already Gaza’s water supply is less than the World Health Organization daily average of 100 liters per person, and many thousands of families are suffering as a result, according to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

Residents of many Gaza villages have no option but to dig unlicensed wells for water that is often unhygienic and untreated. The Palestinian Water Authority says there are around 10,000 wells across the Gaza Strip, including 300 municipal wells, 2,700 agricultural wells and 7,000 unlicensed water wells. Before Israel imposed its punitive siege on Gaza, the local government used to fine these unauthorized wells, but now their number simply continues to increase. The choice, after all, is between life from water dug from underground aquifers—or death.

“Gaza Ten Years Later,” a recent U.N. report on the effect of the Israeli siege, declared: “Despite the warnings issued by the U.N. in 2012, Gaza has continued on its trajectory of de-development, in many cases even faster than the U.N. had originally projected.” The report found that access to safe drinking water in Gaza through the public water network plummeted from 98.3 percent in 2000 to a mere 10.5 percent in 2014—compared to almost 97 percent in the West Bank. It’s no surprise then that, during the same period, Gazans’ reliance on water-tank trucks, containers and bottled water rose from 1.4 percent to 89.6 percent.

The resilience of Gazans seems to characterize a lot of stories one hears on a daily basis. Abu Hajjaj, for example, a farmer in Khan Younes, said, “It’s been tough with frequent water outages—but who will listen to our complaints—no one listens—all states are busy with their own affairs.”

A related risk, rarely mentioned in the international media, is the amount of untreated or partially treated wastewater released into the Mediterranean Sea every day. That amount has increased from 90,000 cubic meters (CM) per day in 2012 to 100,000 CM per day in 2016. Due to the electricity crisis, the U.N. report documented an even further increase—to 108,000 CM per day.

In July, Israel’s Ministry of Health instructed the country’s national water company, Mekorot, to close two piping stations near the border with Gaza, over fears that Gaza’s sewage dumping would pollute the water in Israeli aquifers.

The PA pays Mekorot for about 5 million CM of water it supplies to a small area of Gaza. Given Gaza’s growing population, however, this is nowhere near enough. Moreover, Israel’s continued ban on construction materials that allegedly could have “a dual use,” has also limited Gaza’s ability to rebuild damaged water stations and build new water desalination plants.

Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) is currently prioritizing the operation of 55 sewage pumping stations to avoid massive localized flooding, which could pose a threat to human lives, particularly in winter.

To Abu Jaber, however, this does not offer much hope of change for the better. “We are humans, and have basic rights and needs that should be kept into consideration,” he states.

“Gaza Ten Years Later” forecast that by 2020 Gaza’s coastal aquifer will be irreversibly damaged.

But, says Abu Jaber, “It is already 2020 in Gaza. Please tell the world!”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Surrounded by the Mediterranean’s Water, But Nothing From the Faucets to Drink


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