GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Garbage collection vehicles in the Gaza Strip stopped working on Sunday due to lack of fuel, forcing local municipalities to use donkeys in order to collect garbage and waste from cities and villages across the region.

Gaza municipality officials said that the garbage vehicles can no longer be used for waste collection because gas stations across the Gaza Strip have run out of fuel as a result of the Israeli-Egyptian siege.

Mohammad al-Farra, Gaza Minister of Local Government, said in a press conference on Sunday that there are around 70 garbage collection vehicles in the Gaza strip that have been pulled from service due to lack of fuel.

The garbage vehicles would be replaced by “primitive means such as donkeys” in order to transport 1,700 tons of solid waste from the streets of the Gaza Strip daily.

Al-Farra confirmed that using donkeys to collect waste is not suitable and will potentially lead to major health problems.

He called on international organizations in the Gaza Strip to support the municipalities’ work.

Municipalities need 150,000 liters of diesel a month in order to operate, and need 700,000 liters to operate water facilities and sanitation.

Al-Farra also accused the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah of participating in the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by talking about the importance of closing tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt and by imposing high taxes on diesel that the PA could ship to Gaza through Israel.

In mid-November, sewage treatment plants in a few Gaza neighborhoods stopped working due to fuel shortages, leading sewage to flood the streets.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

Lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a 7-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution. Since the coup against Egyptian president Morsi in July, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels.

Egyptian Maj. Gen. Ahmad Ibrahim said in October that nearly 800 tunnels had been destroyed since the beginning of the year at that time, while Rafah officials estimated in September that these operations had demolished 95% of previously existing tunnels.

Gaza Strip energy officials blame Egypt for destroying these tunnels while maintaining the larger economic blockade, along with Israel.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.