Water cutoff by Israeli authorities leads to public health crisis in Palestinian-occupied Gaza Strip


End the blockade, restore water and electricity, and allow fuel to flow in

A. Khayyam Ahmed
Special Adviser on the Right to Health

More than a month has passed since the Israeli government’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, with catastrophic cutoffs of water, fuel and electricity, and severely limited deliveries of food, water and medicine, but the lack of clean water has Public health experts have expressed “grave concern” about an impending outbreak of infectious diseases in Gaza, including waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever.

On November 11, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said: [in Gaza] I asked for bread and water. ”

Since October 7, the Israeli government has cut off the pipes supplying water to Gaza. Since then, water supplies have only been restored to some areas in southern Gaza, with some water flowing through Egypt, but it is not reaching everyone and is insufficient to meet the needs of Gaza residents. water supply is largely inadequate, forcing many to rely on local water supplies. But more than 96 percent of Gaza’s water supply is “unfit for human consumption,” according to the United Nations. According to the Palestinian Water Authority, sewage and desalination plants were shut down in mid-October due to fuel and power shortages, and have barely operated since then.

Since the lockdown began, water shortages and pollution have severely hampered access to health care, making people sick and already causing disease outbreaks and creating a public health crisis.

Medical facilities cannot operate without clean water. The World Health Organization says that “damage to water and sanitation systems and reduced availability of cleaning supplies have made it nearly impossible to maintain basic infection prevention and control measures in health care facilities” and that ingestion of contaminated water has increased , report a significantly increased risk of bacterial infections such as: More than half of the reported cases were in children under the age of five. On November 14, Human Rights Watch spoke to a doctor at Al-Aqsa Hospital who reported a sharp rise in cases of dehydration. “The number of cases of gastroenteritis is countless,” the doctor added.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also expressed grave concerns:[t]If children continue to drink unsafe water and do not have access to medicine when they become ill, the death toll will rise exponentially. ”

The Israeli government will immediately end the total blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is a collective punishment and a war crime, restore access to water and electricity, and ensure much-needed food, medical aid and assistance to Gaza, including the crossing at Kerem. Import of fuel should be allowed. Shalom.


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