A top UN official Sept. 3 urged Israel to ease its two-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow materials to repair damaged water and sanitation systems. To drive his point home, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the territory Maxwell Gaylard led his enterouge to the edge of a sewage-polluted reservoir in Beit Lahiya, north of Gaza City. “The deterioration and breakdown of water and sanitation facilities in Gaza is compounding an already severe and protracted denial of human dignity in the Gaza Strip,” said Gaylard in a press statement.
The destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week offensive against Gaza las over the winter exacerbated an already critical situation, leaving some services and facilities on the brink of collapse. Gaylard, urged Israel to “take immediate steps to ensure the entry into Gaza of construction and repair materials necessary to respond to the water and sanitation crisis that exists in the Gaza Strip.”
Due to the closure of Gaza’s crossing points imposed by Israel since June 2007, equipment and supplies needed for the construction, maintenance and operation of water and sanitation facilities have been denied entry to the territory. Currently, some 10,000 in Gaza remain without access to the water network and an additional 60% of the strip’s population lack continuous access to water. Because sewage treatment plants remain in disrepair, some 50-80 million liters of untreated and partially treated waste-water are being discharged daily into the Mediterranean Sea. (Ma’an News Agency, Sept. 3)