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Facts and Figures about the Current Darkness in the Gaza Strip PDF Print E-mail
Jan 23, 2008 at 06:11 PM

January 23rd 2008

Report from the Palestinian Hydrology Group
  1. Gaza Strip today is facing a very harsh siege which is expected to have severely negative humanitarian impact.
  2. The distribution of drinking water and the collection and treatment of wastewater completely rely on electricity and fuel in Gaza Strip.
  3. For several months now Israel has imposed a cruel siege on the Strip preventing people and goods from free movement. This has immobilized the importing of spare parts, pumps, pipes and other necessary accessories for the water and sanitation providing facilities.
  4. According to different sources the water and sanitation services are expected to be completely paralyzed within a matter of hours due to the lack of fuel reserves.
  5. About 133 water wells are being used for domestic purposes in addition to 33 sewage pump stations and three treatment plants; 10 of these groundwater wells function using fuel while the rest rely on electricity. Diesel powered generators are normally used as backup for the whole system but only for a limited time.
    The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility needs at least 100,000 liters of diesel per month to operate the water system. An additional 100,000 liters of diesel per month are needed for the sewage system to prevent wastewater from flooding the streets and residential areas.
  6. Reducing electricity and fuel supplies are potential causes to trigger an environmental crisis especially in the wastewater pump stations and treatment plants. If wastewater is not treated it will have to be pumped directly to the sea. This will for sure have a direct and negative impact on the groundwater aquifer and marine life.
    During winter time sewage pumps need to operate about 24 hours per day due to rainfall. Therefore, interruptions in fuel and electricity supply would be particularly significant.
  7. The sewage treatment plant in Beit Lahiya is also vulnerable to interruptions in electricity supplies. The treatment lagoons must be pumped regularly, or else the 10,000 people living in the area are in danger.  Six months ago, one of the lagoons over flooded and caused the death of five persons. Proper maintenance could have prevented the disaster.
  8. The water supply in Gaza City, with a total of 600,000 residents, in addition to a major part of the central portion of the Strip is expected to be completely cut-off as a result of ceasing the pumping from the municipal groundwater wells. The City also faces the threat of overflowing wastewater since the pumps (especially Al Samer and Aqoola stations) are expected to stop operating within the next 24 hours.
  9. If the current situation should persist the solid wastes generated in the Strip will accumulate in piles on the streets endangering the health of the locals.

The WaSH Monitoring Program calls on the International Community to push Israel to immediately cease all military operations, reopen the borders to allow the movement of people and goods and provide fuel supply and humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza.


GAZA : AN ISRAELI CALL FOR URGENT ACTION

We, the Israeli organizations signed below, deplore the decision by the Israeli government to cut off vital supplies of electricity and fuel (and therefore water, since the pumps cannot work), as well as essential foodstuffs, medicines and other humanitarian supplies to the civilian population of Gaza. Such an action constitutes a clear and unequivocal crime against humanity.

Prof. John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, called the Israeli government's actions "serious war crimes" for which its political and military officials should be prosecuted and punished. The killing of more than 40 civilians this past week violates, he said, "the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention. It also violates one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets." Indeed, the very legal framework invoked by the Israeli government to carry out this illegal and immoral act – declaring Gaza a "hostile entity" within a "conflict short of war" – has absolutely no standing in international law.

We call on the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, to lead the Security Council to a decisive decision to end the siege on Gaza when it meets in emergency session on Wednesday.

We call on the governments of the world, and in particular the American government and the European Parliament, to censure Israel's actions and, in light of recent attempts to revive the diplomatic process, to end all attacks on civilians, including the continuing demolition of Palestinian homes at an alarming rate.

We call upon the Jews of the world in whose name the Israeli government purports to speak, and upon their rabbis and communal leaders in particular, to speak out unequivocally against this offense to the very moral core of Jewish values.

And we call upon the peoples of the world to let their officials and leaders know of their repudiation of this cruel, illegal and immoral act – an act that stands out in its cruelty even in an already oppressive Israeli Occupation.

We condemns attacks on all civilians, and we acknowledge the suffering of the residents of Sderot. Still, those attacks do not justify the massive disproportionality of Israeli sanctions over a million and half civilians of Gaza, in particular in light of Israel's oppressive 40 year occupation. Such violations of international law by a government are especially egregious and must be denounced and punished if the very system of human rights and international law is to be preserved.

The Israeli government's decision to punish Gaza's civilian population, with all the human suffering that entails, constitutes State Terrorism against innocent people. Only when Israeli policy-makers are held accountable for their actions and international law upheld will a just peace be possible in the Middle East.

 


The Alternative Information Center  *  Bat Tsafon  *  Gush Shalom  *  The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)  *  Physicians for Human Rights  *  Coalition of Women for Peace
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