Tue 9-July-2024

Waste and sewage in Gaza, a health disaster that deepens Gazans’ ordeal

Sunday 7-July-2024


Israeli occupation forces continue systematic destruction of water and sanitation facilities and waste management systems, turning it into a new method of slow death in the Gaza Strip.

The problem of waste and sewage, especially in places of displacement, shelters, and hospitals, exceeds what is being revealed by local and international reports, leaving its epidemiological effects on the residents of the Gaza Strip which Israel seeks to turn into an unlivable place.

Hosni Muhanna, the coordinator of the Union of Municipalities in the Gaza Strip, said that the accumulation of more than 300,000 tons of waste in the streets, alleys, and around the displacement camps, in addition to the overflow of wastewater in many places, has become a real crisis that portends a health disaster in the Strip, which has been under ongoing Israeli aggression for nine months.

Muhanna noted that municipalities in the Strip have become unable to deal with the crisis, especially in light of the continued Israeli aggression and the deliberate direct targeting of municipal crews and service facilities.

According to Muhanna, the leakage of accumulated waste leachate under high temperatures into the ground leading to groundwater pollution, which portends a real disaster that will require many years of serious work to overcome its repercussions.

The Gaza Municipality continues to send distress calls and warnings about the dangers resulting from the accumulation of waste in the streets and shelter centers and the lack of fuel and machinery to collect and transport waste, especially that municipal crews have been prevented from reaching the main landfill in the Juhr al-Dik area, east of the city.

The municipality confirmed that of the 300,000 tons of waste accumulated in the Strip, there are more than 100,000 tons in the streets of Gaza City alone.

The municipality stated that the Israeli aggression, genocidal war, and the destruction of about 125 municipal vehicles, especially waste collection vehicles, and the failure to allocate and provide fuel for this service caused almost complete paralysis that has been seriously affecting the health and environmental conditions in the city.

It added that the searing heat of Gaza summer causes waste to ignite, leading to the emission of fumes that are harmful to health, the environment, and the respiratory system.

The Gaza Municipality calls on all international and concerned parties to intervene urgently and quickly to provide the necessary fuel and mechanisms to collect waste and reduce the health and environmental catastrophe the city is experiencing.

Wastewater is another dilemma

The Emergency Committee in the municipality of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip warned, on Thursday, of an “imminent humanitarian and environmental catastrophe,” due to the depletion of diesel and the fuel needed to operate sewage plants and water wells.

The committee said in a statement that this “will expose one million and two hundred thousand residents and displaced people to fatal risks and diseases as a result of pollution and the overflow of sewage in the streets.”

Since the start of the Israeli occupation’s aggression against the Gaza Strip on October 7 last year, municipal vehicles have been targeted and destroyed, and the fuel needed to operate machinery, generators, and stations has been banned.

All solutions to the crisis seem almost impossible, unless the free countries of the world respond and pressure Israel to stop its aggression and allow the entry of sufficient fuel to operate machinery in an effective manner.

Before the aggression, the waste crisis was being dealt with through a solid waste management project costing $32 million sponsored by the World Bank and donor partners, according to a report by one of the international institutions working in Gaza.

The project provided a vital service that benefited nearly one million people in southern and central Gaza through the construction of the new Al-Fakhari (Sofa) sanitary landfill, waste transfer stations, a medical waste treatment facility, and the restoration of three main landfills.

The report stressed the need for government institutions, development partners, and citizens to make coordinated efforts to bring about a transformation in the solid waste management sector in order to avoid environmental dangers, to contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change, and to improve the living conditions of the Palestinian people.

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