Water Crisis in Gaza after Bombing of Gaza’s Only Power Plant
Gaza, (Palestine Telegraph) – Reem Asqoul doesn’t know what to do to calm her daughter’s constant crying, as she holds an empty bottle of water in her hands saying “Mom I’m thirsty, I want water”, for they used their very last drop of water on the 24th day of the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. Asqoul (25 years old) was unable to purchase water from any of the drinking water delivery services, and was told by several of them that “We apologize but we don’t have any water available,” or “We can’t go out to make a delivery during the bombing.” And Asqoul says that: “Israel targeted some of our water wells and water lines, causing this water crisis, and I haven’t received any drinking water in two days.” Residents of the Gaza Strip rely on desalination plants as their main source of water for drinking and cooking, due to increasing levels of pollution and salinity of well water that they depend on, and this has increased the financial burdens on them, as poverty and unemployment rates continue to rise. The water that residents receive from the “municipalities” is of limited use, due to its extremely high salinity, and is used solely for household cleaning purposes. Asqoul wonders: “We are no longer able to receive one of our most fundamental human rights, we adults can handle it, but what about our children, will they die of thirst, bombs, and fear?” Since the beginning of this latest Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, Israel has targeted a number of wells and water pipes in Gaza’s municipalities, and as a result water has been cut off from large areas within Gaza. Nonoperational Filters According to Ismail Ammar, one of the water providers, he hasn’t been able to respond to the requests of his clients to provide them with water, because the power outage has made it impossible to desalinate the water. He said: “The fuel I had to power my operations ran out, so I can no longer power the water filtration system, or pump water up to people’s water tanks. And even if I did have fuel, the main water supply has been cut off for several days now.” Ammar is often fearful of going outside to deliver water to clients, and he says: “Israel doesn’t differentiate between civilians and their targets, Israel targets anything that moves, it has targeted cars affiliated with international organizations, so what does that leave for us?” In an attempt to stop the launching of missiles from Gaza into Israel, the Israeli military started attacks on Gaza on July 8, and has caused the death of over 1500 Palestinians and over 8000 casualties. An Environmental Disaster The Municipality of Gaza has warned of an environmental and public health catastrophe as a result of the destruction of it’s only power plant and the resultant power outage, which has resulted in the cut off of water supply to its residents. And the municipality has reported that 200 groundwater wells, which provide residents with water, are no longer of use due to the power outage. Gaza’s only power plant was destroyed and is no longer operational, after Israeli airstrikes targeted its main fuel storage tanks, last Tuesday. About 95% of Gaza’s groundwater is considered unsuitable for drinking, with high levels of Nitrates and Chloride, levels much higher than what occurs naturally, with Chloride levels of 1000 mg/L in most wells, exceeding the World Health Organization’s recommended levels of no more than 205 mg/L. And in addition to this pollution of Gaza’s groundwater, water in Gaza is extremely scarce, with reports from Palestine’s Environmental Quality Agency showing that Gaza suffers from a water deficit of 100 million cubic meters/year. The Dangers of Getting Water One resident, Alaa Al Omari, took no notice of the continuous Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip, as he went around to water filtration plants and the few shops that have remained open in search of some water for his children. Al Omari lifted his empty water gallon saying: “I have been searching for water for the past two hours, and I haven’t found any yet.” And he continues: “We have had no water in our home for the past three days, how can the children remain this long without water, we are living under extremely difficult conditions, no electricity, no water, and surrounded by death.” The Gaza Strip needs about 360 Megawatts to meet the needs of its residents (approximately 1.8 million), of which not even 200 Megawatts are available. Gaza receives its electricity from three sources, the first is Israel, which provides the Strip with 120 Megawatts, the second is Egypt providing 28 Megawatts, and the third was Gaza’s own power plant, which provided between 40 to 60 Megawatts. Al Omari pointed out that people are trying to contact the water filtration stations, but most people aren’t getting any responses, and he assumes that most of these water filtration stations have closed their doors over these past few days. In its attempts to stop the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, and to destroy the underground tunnels between Gaza and Israel, the Israeli military has been carrying out its assault on Gaza by air, land and sea since July 8. These attacks have caused the death of 1600 Palestinians, and the injury of 8600 others, as of nine thirty pm on Friday, according to reports by the Palestinian Ministry of Health, in addition to damaging thousands of housing units.