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Water in blockaded Gaza ‘not fit for human consumption’

Published time: June 15, 2012 12:21
Edited time: June 15, 2012 16:21
A Palestinian man collects the water from a flooded main road in Tel al-Sultan neighbourhood of the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

A Palestinian man collects the water from a flooded main road in Tel al-Sultan neighbourhood of the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

The water in Gaza is too dangerous to drink as it is contaminated with fertilizers and sewage, says a new report. Several charitable organizations have called on Israel to immediately lift its blockade to allow crucial sanitation equipment in.

Sanitary conditions have reached crisis point in Gaza after five years of blockade. Authorities have warned inhabitants that the only source of running water is too dangerous to consume.

A report by charities Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians says that the levels of contamination are more often than not ten times what is safe for consumption. Many poor families have no choice but to drink the water.

“The children of Gaza are living in prison-like conditions, entrapped on a strip of hostile land that prevents them from even dreaming of a better future. Since the beginning of the blockade in 2007, the number of children under 3 years of age being treated for diarrhea has doubled,” said Save the Children director Valerio Neri. He added that conditions were so dire in the region that “even a simple case of diarrhea can be fatal for a child.”

As well as the blockade, the report cites war damage and lack of investment as the root causes of the sanitary crisis.

The charities highlighted the fact that Israel’s repeated bombing of Gaza had left the sewage system “completely broken.”

The Israeli government maintains that it has eased up the blockade on the region over the past couple of months with a view curbing the crisis. It says that medical supplies and building materials are being allowed through to aid in Gaza’s reconstruction.

However, the report says this is not enough and calls on the international community and the Palestinian Authority to do more.

"As a matter of urgent priority for the health and well-being of Gaza's children, Israel must lift the blockade in its entirety to enable the free movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza."

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