Gaza water supply drops to 17% despite promise of fresh fuel

Oxfam warns that despite the Israeli government’s announcement that two trucks of fuel will now be allowed in per day, the amount of water available to people trapped in Gaza is still only 17% of pre-siege levels. Current fuel levels make water treatment, pumping and distribution nearly impossible. On October 9, the Israeli government imposed a siege, cutting off all water, fuel and food to Gaza.

Before the siege, Gaza had access to more than 344 million liters of water through groundwater wells and pipelines. Currently, only 58 million liters are available – less than a fifth. Without fuel, this figure drops to less than 25 million liters – seven per cent. Total water consumption is used for municipal and domestic water use. The minimum international standard in emergencies is 15 liters per person per day. People already have to ration 1-3 liters of water per day to survive and can only drink seawater and untreated water.

The analysis shows that since aid trucks were allowed to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing between October 21 and November 12, the total amount of bottled water delivered was equivalent to just 1.6 liters per person. No aid has entered through the Rafah crossing since November 14, although a small amount of fuel exclusively for United Nations trucks was allowed in on Wednesday.

Oxfam, along with other international aid agencies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is a member of the United Nations Water and Sanitation Cluster. The cluster’s analysis outlines the devastating impact fuellessness has on Gaza’s water supply and availability. If fuel runs out, Gaza’s only water supply is through two Israeli pipelines, which in the best case can provide only 7% of pre-war water volumes. Water and sanitation infrastructure across Gaza was also reported to have been severely damaged: 263 of 592 facilities (nearly half) were reported to have been damaged by airstrikes.

Gastroenteritis and dehydration are on the rise, as is the risk of water-borne illnesses. Oxfam partner Juzoor is working in northern Gaza and Gaza City to support people living in temporary shelters. They say water scarcity is a major problem and contaminated water can lead to many health problems, especially among children. An Oxfam worker in Gaza said: “The water is disgusting and most people have to drink brackish water from wells. There is no electricity so we have to fill buckets and carry them to rooftop tanks. Our whole family is sick.” There is diarrhea.”

More than 70% of the population (1.6 million people) has been displaced, with 795,000 people crammed into 154 United Nations shelters. More than 30,000 children are reported to be suffering from dehydration and malnutrition in shelters, and thousands of cases of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and chickenpox have been reported among evacuees. The humanitarian situation increasingly demonstrates:

  • Before the siege, 1.3 million liters of industrial and automotive fuel and 366 tons of cooking gas entered Gaza every day.
  • In the 40 days since October 9, only 1,121 aid trucks have entered the Gaza Strip. It is estimated that this can only meet the needs of 3,000 to 5,000 people per day.
  • Many supermarkets across Gaza are no longer able to stock bottled water, bread and even canned goods, which many people rely on to survive.
  • The last functioning mill in Gaza was reportedly destroyed on November 15, meaning that locally produced flour will no longer be available.
  • Oxfam partners supporting families sheltering in community centers confirmed that in some shelters more than 3,000 people were sharing 10 toilets

Sally Abir Khalil, Oxfam’s regional director for the Middle East, said: “It is strange that the people of Gaza are forced to endure such inhumane conditions. How long can Israel operate with impunity? Water, food, fuel, Medicines – which are fundamental to human existence – deny that they violate international humanitarian law.

“For 40 days, water and sanitation systems have not been functioning properly, sewage is overflowing into the streets and people have to drink dirty water to survive. Bottled water and canned food are now running out, which some people are lucky enough to have returned as a last resort Stuff. Feed your family.

“It is clear that if Israel is allowed to continue its military operations without fulfilling its legal responsibility to protect and provide for innocent civilians, then the entire Gaza is effectively on death row. World leaders who support Israel and block global calls for a ceasefire are at every turn Help and stakes for them.”

Oxfam is calling for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid through Israel and Egypt.

You can donate to Oxfam Australia’s Gaza Crisis Appeal here.

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