Gazans are being poisoned slowly, as 97% of water is undrinkable, rights group says

Middle East Monitor  /  October 5, 2021

Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are dying slowly as 97 per cent of the water in the coastal enclave is undrinkable, Euro-Med Monitor said yesterday.

joint statement issued by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH) to the 48th session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), revealed that the “long-term Israeli blockade has caused a serious deterioration of water security in Gaza.”

The Israeli blockade, they said, “turned 97 per cent of the water contaminated, while the residents of the besieged enclave are forced to witness the slow poisoning.”

Mohammad Shehadeh, from the Euro-Med Monitor, told the UNHRC that his organization along with GIWEH “would like to draw your attention to the severe deterioration in the Gaza Strip’s water security, mainly due to Israel’s prolonged siege, punctuated by periodic military assaults.”

Shehadeh said that the electricity crisis made the situation “worse” as it undermines the operation of water wells and sewage treatment plants, “leading about 80 per cent of Gaza’s untreated sewage to be discharged into the sea while 20 per cent seeps into underground water.”

He pointed to the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza that took place in May, noting that it deteriorated the water crisis as it targeted basic water infrastructure.

“This water crisis presents a serious threat to the beleaguered population’s health, where recent data indicates that about a quarter of the diseases spread in Gaza are caused by water pollution, and 12 per cent of the deaths of children and infants are linked to intestinal diseases related to contaminated water,” Shehadeh said.

“A civilian population caged in a toxic slum from birth to death are forced to witness the slow poisoning of their children and loved ones by the water they drink and likely the soil in which they harvest, endlessly, with no change in sight.”

Concluding the statement, Shehadeh said: “There is no possible justification whatsoever for this situation. It’s incumbent on the occupying authority and international community to fully guarantee Gazans’ right to water security.”