UK’s Oxfam, PA’s EWASH warn shortage of clear drinking water poses growing health risk for Strip’s residences. Israel says it’s doing everything it can to ease plight; says Gazans reluctant to accept offer

Published: 08.16.12

A new report by the British human rights organization Oxfam determined that the fresh water supply in Gaza Strip fails to keep up with the growing populations.

The report found that the Strip’s residents pay up to one-third of their household income on drinking water and the growing shortage of fresh water sources is posing a growing health risk.

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Oxfam said that much of the water network was damaged during Operation Cast Lead. The 2009 military campaign saw Israel fight Gaza-based terror groups.

Gaza’s government has so far repaired only part of the damage and according to the report, the damaged infrastructure has been deteriorating further.

According to Green Prophet, Gaza’s main source of water is the Coastal Aquifer.

Ghada Snunu of EWASH, a non-governmental organization that deals with water quality, told the online magazine that “95% percent of the water in the Coastal Aquifer has dangerous levels of nitrates and chloride, often ten times what the World Health Organization recommends.”

Both organizations attribute the plight to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, imposed in a bid to limit the smuggling of weapons and explosive into the Strip, for the situation.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev stressed that Israel is doing everything within its power to help facilitate Gaza’s fresh water needs: “Israel has been helping to improve the water infrastructure in Gaza and Israel was willing to double or even triple the amount of water going into Gaza.

“It is the same water that you and I drink, and the Gazans would pay less than what we pay but they weren’t willing to accept that solution.”

Palestinian water officials in Gaza say that Israel provides just 4-5 million cubic meters of water to Gaza a year, while the Strip uses 100 M3 for drinking alone.

The report also quoted Monther Shublaq, director of Gaza’s Coastal Municipal Water Utilities as saying that the majority of Gazans rely on private water deliveries; but those are unregulated and may be contaminated.

As Gaza has an ocean, one solution is desalination. Oxfam and CMWU have recently inaugurated a desalination plant and water distribution pipeline in the southern city of Rafah.,7340,L-4267655,00.html