With nearly all of its water now contaminated, with basic medicines lacking, and some 200,000 of its population unemployed, Gaza demands the lifting of the blockade. A delegation of 13 European members of parliament has been refused entry into the region by Israel.Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, in its collective coverage of recent international media reports, notes that the United Nations has warned that Gaza’s already short water supplies could be running out, as an outbreak of infectious disease due to Israel’s recent assaults on civilian infrastructure threatens the region with a major health crisis.
Water shortages are nothing new for Palestinians in the densely populated Gaza Strip enclave, and more and more people have been digging their own wells since 2006.
Since then, ‘more than 10,000 wells have been dug’, said Gaza water authority official Monzer Shoblak, according to MiddleEast Eye.
‘All these wells were dug without legal authorization, but without them may people would not have water throughout the day,’ he said.
The aquifier could be unusable by 2016, and the damage it has suffered may be irreversible by 2020, experts say.
According to Shoblak, some 95 percent of Gaza’s water is already contaminated.
‘The volume of nitrate in the water should not go above 50 milligrams per liter. In Gaza the levels are about 200-250 milligrams,’ he said, with chloride — which should be kept to 250 mg per liter — reaching 2,000 mg in some areas.
During the Israeli bombardment, water pipes were also hit as the only power station serving the Gaza Strip was destroyed.
During ceasefire negotiations, Israel promised to allow the entry of some materials for reconstruction, without specifying what or when. However, for the moment, no cement, gravel or steel has passed through the border crossings linking Gaza to Israel.
See: 09/02/14 Netanyahu: No Israeli Delegation to Cairo Talks
Since 2006, and with further backing from Egypt, beginning in 2007, the Gaza Strip has been the victim of a crippling Israeli blockade which, among other things, has prevented the entry of construction materials, as Israel continues to push the narrative that such materials could be used by militants to build tunnels and fortifications.
The recent assault, which lasted from July 8 to August 26, is now its third in six years.
According to the Ministry of Health, around 27 percent of medicine in the Gaza Strip has run out while 48 percent of all medical disposables have been completely exhausted.
Deputy Health Minister Youssef Abul-Riesh has called on Israel to keep its promises and implement the terms of the ceasefire deal, in order to allow the entry of badly-needed supplies into the region.
Gaza’s unemployment has been upped to 55 percent, according to Gaza’s workers’ union, as some 30,000 Gazans lost their jobs at over 500 shops, with factories and company offices destroyed from relentless and indiscriminate Israeli bombardement by land, air and sea.
The ongoing blockade saw some 170,000 people out of work, previous to the assault.
$30 million needed for rubble clearing
According to the Daily Sabah, Palestine Undersecretary of Public Works Naci Serhan claims that they need $30 million to clear 3 million tons of rubble in the Gaza Strip.
‘We are facing the problem of blockade and the lack of needed material to clean the area and reconstruct the region’ Serhan said to AA. ‘Even with the provision of the necessary equipment we need about a year to clean this amount of rubble.’
According to ministry data, 17,200 buildings have totally collapsed and 41,300 have been partially damaged. Hundreds of entire Palestinian families are now homeless following the Israeli military offensive.
Additionally, there are approximately 500,000 students who were scheduled to be divided among 648 schools, with some 421 of the buildings being shared in double shifts. At least 34 buildings have been damaged beyond use and dozens more are in need of major repair.
Furthermore, 31 schools are still sheltering 59,728 residents who lost their homes. Now, students must be sorted into classrooms, taking into account that thousands no longer live where they did last year.
Following the truce agreement in Gaza, Israel designated 400 hectares of Palestinian-owned West Bank lands as ‘state land’, for continued expansion of its illegal, ‘Jewish-only’ settlements.
The decision has drawn several denunciatory remarks from the international community, since Sunday, as Palestinians now prepare to seek a UN Security Council resolution that would set a three-year deadline for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
European delegation denied access to Gaza
In related news, ECCPalestine has reported that a delegation of 13 GUE/NGL MEPS arrived in Palestine on Thursday, September 4th, beginning a 4-day visit which included a meeting with officials from several rights organizations, as well as Haaretz journalist Amira Hass, yesterday morning in Jerusalem.
The Group had planned to visit Gaza but the Israeli government refused to grant them entry.
Speaking from Jerusalem, GUE/NGL MEP Martina Anderson said: ‘The Israeli government refused us, 13 MEPs from six countries, entry into Gaza on the grounds that our visit to the region is ‘not directly concerned with the provision of humanitarian assistance…
“From our meetings with both peace organisations and Palestine Liberation Organization representatives what we heard was a clear call for the international community to realize that the negotiations are over. Israel enters into the negotiations but then carries out deadly military attacks and land grabs – a direct contradiction with the peace it claims to want to work towards. Rather than continuing their support for talks, world leaders should be loudly denouncing the Israeli occupation of Palestine for what it is, the deliberate and systematic extermination of Palestinians from their land, nothing short of social genocide.’
Of the experience, MP Neoklis Sylikiotis said: “On our first day in Palestine we saw first-hand how Israel attempts to keep polarizing society along religious lines. They use settlers to change the demography of the town and turn it into a city only for Jews. But Jerusalem is a shared space, as was agreed in 2003 – it should be a city for people of all and no faith. The EU and the international community should act in such a way to stop these settlements.’
A full list of delegates can be seen at Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency.