People in Gaza are slowly being poisoned by the contaminated drinking water, NGOs highlight at the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Today 97 percent of Gaza's drinking water is not drinkable according to a joint statement issued by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH).
They cited the long-term Israeli blockade for catalysing the deterioration of water security. Palestinians living in Gaza, which has been described by observers as a large open prison, have little means of improving the quality of the water owing to the Israeli occupation. The NGOs have urged Israeli authorities and the international community to take immediate action to ensure the water security of residents.
More than 97 percent of Gaza’s drinking-water is below minimum health standards for human consumption. Most of the residents drink water from private purifiers, because the larger installations have been damaged or destroyed as a result of Israel bombardment or are out of use due to a lack of maintenance. Gaza is currently not capable of supplying enough water for its 2 million inhabitants.
The two organizations have pointed at Israel’s economic siege, continual military attacks on Gaza and its repeated bombing of water and sewage infrastructure as the main reasons of Gaza’s water crisis.
Mohammad Shehadeh, Euro-Med Monitor Regional Manager in Europe, told the Human Rights Council that they "would like to draw attention to the severe deterioration in the Gaza Strip's water security, mainly due to Israel's prolonged siege, punctuated by periodic military assaults."
He added that the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza in May targeted basic water infrastructure and deepened the water crisis further.
Another worsening factor is the poor condition of infrastructure in Gaza. Sewage, water and electricity infrastructure have been damaged severely in the continual fighting with Israel.
According to the joint statement, the acute electricity crisis prevents water wells and sewage treatment plants from operating correctly. As a result, it causes about 80 percent of Gaza's untreated sewage to be discharged into the sea while 20 percent seeps into underground water.
About a quarter of the diseases spread in Gaza are caused by water pollution and 12 percent of the deaths of children and infants are linked to intestinal diseases directly related to the drinking water, according to the recent data provided in the joint statement.
Gazan people are helpless in the face of their children being slowly poisoned by the dirty drinking water, Mohammad Shehadeh stated.
“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,” Shehadeh said.
He concluded as there is no possible justification for this situation and said it is the duty of the Israeli authority and international community to ensure Gazans' right to water security.
About 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza have been subject to a prolonged Israeli blockade and severe economic and travel restrictions since 2006.