Destruction of Gaza Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Must Stop
Gaza – PNN - The Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH) has condemned recent Israeli airstrikes that have resulted in damaged water and sanitation infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
EWASH, a coalition of 30 prominent humanitarian organisations working in the Palestinian territories, in a press release today detailed the damage caused by one particular air strike on Sunday. The air strike destroyed an agricultural well in Beit Hanoun, injuring 4 children and 3 women in the process. The well provided water for the Az-Za’anin family and 39 dunams of agricultural land.
The same strike also caused damage to 9 water tanks that served five households of 59 people. EWASH condemns such strikes on essential civilian infrastructure.
Earlier this year in March an Israeli airstrike hit a warehouse in Khuza’a municipality destroying $60,000 worth of essential water and sanitation materials. Similarly in April, a strike on Al-Mintar water reservoir in Al-Quba area of Gaza City left 30,000 people without water for three days.
Israel because of the siege it is imposing on Gaza must make sure Palestinians have access to essential services; this is a right Palestinians have enshrined by International law.
Ghada Snunu, the EWASH Advocacy Task Force Officer in Gaza explained that rather than carrying out such international obligations “what we keep witnessing is the opposite – civilian infrastructure, in particular water-related facilities, are often hit during Israeli airstrikes depriving people of indispensable services.”
EWASH states that the water and wastewater infrastructure in Gaza is already under critical strain, as a result of Israel’s siege on the small strip of land and the heavy restrictions Israel has put in place. Air strikes that damage Gaza’s civilian structure only furthers the dire humanitarian situation that is imposed on 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza.
Damage to Palestinian civilian infrastructure by Israel is not limited to Gaza. This year, 20 water collection cisterns have already been destroyed in parts of Area C in the West Bank.
During Israel’s military bombardment ‘Opertaion Cast Lead’ in 2008/09, Israeli air strikes destroyed over 30 kilometres of water networks in total: more than twice the width of the Gaza Strip at its widest point.
In 2001, Israel had signed a pledge with the Palestinian Authority to keep the water infrastructure of Palestinians safe in any air strikes and/or conflict. This pledge has repeatedly been ignored.
EWASH ‘calls on Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza and calls on the international community to step up pressure on Israel to ensure protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.’
Source: Palestine News Network, 19 July 2011