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Gaza youth highlight growing pollution crisis in harbour clean-up

Hundreds of Palestinian youth in the occupied Gaza Strip formed a human chain along the blockaded enclave’s only seaport yesterday to draw attention to the growing pollution crisis.

According to CGTN, the initiative – named “It will come back to you” – was “part of a campaign aimed at protecting the basin of the Gaza harbour from growing levels of pollution due to the accumulation of large amounts of solid waste on the shore and under water”.

“Gaza harbour is the only outlet for residents here, unfortunately Gaza beaches are piled high with waste which threatens humans and fish,” Shireen Abu Zayed, 25, said.

“We must try as much as possible to reduce pollution levels, and clean up the harbour with the little available capabilities that we have.”

READ: Pollution blights 50% of Gaza’s beaches

CGTN noted that “sports teams, fishermen and divers also participated in the clean-up event. The divers jumped into the basin below the harbour and collected as much solid waste as possible.”

“We organised this initiative to encourage people here to take part in waste collecting activities, because we lack the capabilities and the tools to do so,” said consultant of Water and Environmental Issues at the Environmental Quality Authority in Gaza and a campaign supervisor Ahmad Hilles.

According to Hilles, Israel’s blockade is preventing Palestinians in Gaza from “building waste recycling plants to get rid of the accumulating waste pumped into the sea every day”.

In addition, “the lengthy power cuts in Gaza have increased the level of pollution resulting from the poorly treated sewage being released into the sea”, with “some 110,000 cubic litres of untreated sewage are pumped into the Mediterranean on a daily basis, according to local authorities”.

The report noted that “the accumulation of solid waste in landfills in residential communities in Gaza” has compelled residents to burn it, thus creating black clouds of smoke that exacerbate air pollution “and the spread of respiratory diseases”.

READ: The World Jewish Congress petition to the UN ignores the environmental disaster created by Israel’s occupation

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