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Israel war causes 'catastrophic damage' to natural environment in Gaza: UN agency

June 5, 2024 at 4:23 pm

Palestinians who take refuge and live in tents due to ongoing Israeli attacks in Gaza, also face the risk of epidemics due to uncollected garbage and accumulated sewage water in Rafah, Gaza on 26 April, 2024. [Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s ongoing war on the Gaza Strip has caused catastrophic damage to the natural environment in the enclave, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reports.

“The war in Gaza has upended millions of Palestinian lives and caused catastrophic damage to the natural environment that they depend upon for water, clean air, food and livelihoods,” UNRWA said in a statement.

“Restoring environmental services will take decades and cannot even start until a ceasefire,” it added.

Wednesday marks World Environment Day, which is observed annually on 5 June.

According to Palestinian figures, available water in Gaza is now estimated to be only 10–20 per cent of pre-war levels, with the supply being highly variable and dependent on fuel availability.

Around 50 per cent of water networks and nine out of ten water reservoirs have been destroyed due to the Israeli war on the besieged enclave.

Israel has continued its brutal offensive on Gaza since a 7 October Hamas attack, despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Around 36,600 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, the vast majority being women and children, and over 83,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Nearly eight months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in its latest ruling has ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in the southern city of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on 6 May.

READ: War in Gaza has resulted in unprecedented levels of destruction: WHO spokesperson