May 6, 2016
- Gaza Sewage Poisons Coastline, Threatens Israel – Fares Akram and Daniella Cheslow
Each day, millions of gallons of raw sewage pour into Gaza’s Mediterranean beachfront, turning miles of once-scenic coastline into a stagnant dead zone. The sewage has damaged Gaza’s limited fresh water supplies, decimated fishing zones, and is now floating northward and affecting Israel as well. “Gaza beaches are completely polluted and unsuitable for swimming and entertainment, especially in the summer,” said Ahmed Yaqoubi of the Palestinian Water Authority.
Steen Jorgensen, country director for the World Bank in the West Bank and Gaza, said his office built a $73 million sewage treatment plant nine years ago. The facility, meant to treat 1/5 of Gaza’s sewage, would be operational if it had a reliable power supply.
Disagreements between Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority over fuel taxes have left Gaza’s power plant functioning at reduced capacity. Israel says it supplies 125 to 140 megawatts of power a day to Gaza. “The decision of distributing the electricity falls under the responsibility of the Palestinians,” said COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian affairs.
Israel Water Authority spokeswoman Ilana Keren said an Israeli desalination plant near Ashkelon, 10 km. north of Gaza, was shut in January and February “because of the quality of the raw water.” Most of the waste is consumed by algae, but a buildup of algae can block filters at the desalination plant, Israel’s Environment Ministry said, adding that a recent check of the water quality off Ashkelon found the beaches suitable for bathing. (AP-ABC News)