As the summer heatwave reaches its peak, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip generally flock to the Mediterranean beaches of the enclave. The beaches are polluted by untreated sewage, but the residents have no alternative as they try to get some relief from the overcrowded conditions in which they live.
Due to the serious electricity shortage and the lack of materials to repair the sewage works and keep them operational, at least 110,000 cubic metres of untreated sewage pour into the sea every day. According to the experts, more than 70 per cent of the beaches are polluted. The colour of the sea has been turned brown and the fishing industry is affected as much as human health.
Even the Israeli authorities — whose blockade of Gaza is largely responsible for the current situation — have announced a ban on citizens using the beaches near the border with the Gaza Strip. The heads of five Israeli municipalities have described the pollution from Gaza which has drifted onto their beaches as a disaster.
A consultant at the Environment Quality Authority, Ahmed Hellis, said that tests on the sea water along Gaza’s beaches have revealed the presence of several types of parasites which have adapted to the polluted environment. “This is a real disaster for the Gaza residents,” he pointed out. Hellis noted that Israel’s successive military offensives against the people of Gaza destroyed a lot of the infrastructure, hence the untreated sewage pouring into the sea.
He also blamed the internal Palestinian division and the strict Israeli closure of the border crossings for the ending of international programme to maintain the sewage facilities and supply spare parts. The environment consultant explained that the sewage facilities need 60 Megawatts of electricity, while the current supply from Israel is just 48 MW.
Meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet is scheduled to look into an appeal filed in an Israeli court against the halting of electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.