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Sep 30, 2009 at 03:24 AM

THE CAMPAIGN TO SUPPRESS FREE SPEECH (PART ONE)
Mordecai Briemberg

Remember the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in December and January? It seared the conscience of millions around the world. Reports from numerous human rights organizations and United Nations commissions continue to document the horrors meticulously. Human Rights Watch just released a report on the unarmed Palestinian women and children who, holding up white flags, were shot down by Israeli soldiers.

Libby Davies, part of a three-person group of MP’s in August, was able to enter Gaza for only 24 “intense hours”. She wrote in her blog what took her by surprise, something that will hit home with many working people.

“You never know in advance what it is that will get to you, so I am surprised that for me, it’s the Karni industrial area. It’s not the parliament building, a cascading wreck of concrete, nor the shelled and bombed houses, nor the horrendous refugee camps (800,000 of Gaza's 1.5 million population are refugees) that have existed for ever. Nor is it the garbage, dead animals here and there, and the vacant empty buildings with broken windows and doors hanging off. It’s this industrial area in the north-east part of the city - flattened and obliterated by exiting forces of the IDF. In the last 48 hours of the war they left via this area and destroyed it on their way out. There were 4000 factories and industries. Now there are 250. Gaza was famous for its furniture making. There were biscuit factories, ice cream factories, and machine and industrial enterprises, to name a few. Almost all gone, almost as a parting shot on their way out. It’s only then that I begin to get it - we are so used to the messages that the war was about destroying terrorists. But this was about destroying the economy and livelihood of the whole of Gaza society.”

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Facts and Figures about the Current Darkness in the Gaza Strip

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.

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