Wednesday, April 17, 2024

People in Gaza are having a tough time because there’s not enough fuel to make the water systems work properly. This means they have to drink water that’s not clean and has too much salt in it

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Mohammad Al Shanti has to go almost four miles to Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza to get water in plastic bottles. But it’s not enough for his family.

“We don’t wash our clothes, we save every little drop,” he told CNN, saying the water situation is really bad.

Finding clean water is a big problem for many people in Gaza. After Hamas attacked Israel in October, Israel bombed Gaza and stopped water, food, and fuel from going in. They only let a little water in now, but it’s not enough. Most of Gaza’s water comes from local sources, but they don’t have enough fuel to pump and clean it.

The water system is breaking down, and some people are drinking dirty, salty water. This could cause health problems, and some might even die from not having enough water.

Water production in Gaza is now only 5% of what it should be, according to a report from UNICEF. People in Gaza are using less than 3 liters of water a day, way below what the World Health Organization says they need.

“The only water people have is basically seawater mixed with sewage,” said Natasha Hall from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Some are drinking from farm wells, according to Oxfam.

Mazen Ghunaim, head of the Palestinian Water Authority, said that without big help, there will be a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

There’s a bit of hope now as the first trucks with water, food, and medical supplies came into south Gaza from Egypt this weekend.

Gaza got only 60,000 liters of water on Saturday, but it needs 33 million liters daily for the 2.3 million people there. This aid is just a small part, says Richard Peeperkorn from the WHO.

Fuel is essential, but it’s missing in aid convoys. Without it, Gaza’s water system breaks down. “Fuel is water,” says Hall. Water is heavy, so moving it needs lots of energy, says Professor Schwab from Johns Hopkins University.

No power means no water from taps. Even if you have a well, no electricity means no pumping water to higher floors, says Al Shanti.

Water trucks can’t reach homes without fuel due to bombardment, says Omar Shaban from PalThink. Making water safe to drink also needs fuel.

All wastewater plants and two desalination plants stopped. The last big desalination plant, closed for a week, works at less than 7%. Small desalination units are not enough.

Gaza’s fuel may run out in 48-72 hours, warns Ghunaim from the PWA.

People are getting worried about sickness. They’re storing water in containers to make sure they have enough. But the water can get dirty again quickly. Sewage is piling up in the streets, and people forced out of their homes are staying in shelters without proper cleanliness.

Experts are concerned about diseases like cholera and dysentery spreading through water. This would make the health system, which is already struggling, even worse.

Hospitals are running out of water, and it’s becoming hard for them to clean their tools for surgery.

CNN asked Israel about the situation, but they haven’t given an answer yet. Israel says they won’t give fuel to Gaza because they think Hamas will use it for war. Even if all hostages are released, Israel won’t change their mind.

But a top official in the Israel Defence Forces has hinted at a change. He says they’ll make sure there’s fuel where it’s needed for civilians, not for fighting.

International groups warn that without fuel, there won’t be clean drinking water. This could lead to people, especially kids, dying from dehydration.

Getting clean water has always been tough in Gaza. The area is small and has a lot of people. There are three main sources of water: desalination plants, pipelines from Israel, and wells.

Most of the water isn’t safe to drink. It’s salty, dirty, and has pollution. The main water source is overused, and more water is taken out than what comes in. As the freshwater goes down, salty water from the sea gets in.

The changing climate is causing problems. The rising sea levels are making the water underground saltier, and extreme weather like intense heat and droughts are making it even harder for us to get enough water.

In Gaza, Israel’s control over the water system is making things worse. They make it tough to bring in parts needed for water systems. Some things that can be used for both regular use and military purposes need special permission to enter Gaza. Building anything related to water is really, really hard in both the West Bank and Gaza.

Even before the fighting started, experts were saying that the water situation would be very bad in the future. People feel really humiliated by what’s happening.

In Gaza, things are getting worse, especially for people like Um Haitham Hassan. She lives in a UNRWA tent in Khan Younis, and the situation is really bad. They’re facing a serious lack of water, and there’s no fuel at all.

Um Haitham Hassan is frustrated because she can’t wash her family’s clothes or bathe her kids. It’s not like in other places where people can leave when there’s not enough water. But in Gaza, moving is not an option.

She shared with CNN, “We feel really embarrassed. Our clothes, hair, and bodies are all dirty. Where are we supposed to get water from?”

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