Jerusalem/Gaza, Oct 15 (EFE).- Israel announced Sunday that it is partially restoring water supplies to the Gaza Strip after shutting off the pipes last Monday, official sources confirmed to EFE. However, it is still being determined whether the extent of the measure can alleviate the severe humanitarian crisis caused by water and fuel shortages in the Palestinian enclave.
“The decision to renew the water supply at a specific point for the residents of the southern Gaza Strip was agreed between Prime Minister Bemjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden,” a spokesman for Israel’s Minister of Infrastructure and Water, Israel Katz, told EFE.
“It is in line with our policies and makes it possible to tighten the unprecedented general siege of Gaza, without electricity, water, and fuel, until Hamas, the Islamist organization that dominates the enclave and which launched a surprise attack against Israel last Saturday, is eliminated,” the spokesman said.
“We hope it’s true,” said one Gazan, currently sheltering in Rafah on the southern tip of the Strip, noting that there was still no immediate change in the shortage situation.
A Hamas spokesman told EFE the news of service restoration “in a few, very few homes.” Still, he stressed that the hundreds of thousands of displaced people who had fled the north to seek refuge in Khan Younis in the south of the Strip have no access to it.
The distribution system of the Israeli water company Mekorot, now partially restored, is independent of the Gazan municipal pipelines, as it retains the network of pipes destined for Israeli settlements in the Strip, abandoned in 2005.
It is doubtful to what extent this reopening of one of the three pipelines carrying water from Israel to Gaza will be able to alleviate the thirst crisis hanging over the two million inhabitants of the Strip because even with total supply, Israel only provides just over 7% of the water consumed in the enclave.
The rest comes from three public desalination plants and numerous private plants, which treat seawater or from Gaza’s only aquifer since the water extracted directly from the subsoil and piped through the municipal network is practically undrinkable because of its high salinity.
Moreover, this tap water is also contaminated by seepage from drains. In times of relative peace, it is not even used for cooking, and before the war, nine out of ten Gazans relied on water delivered by trucks or public drinking water collection points.
The plants have stopped working and are facing power and fuel shortages, and delivery has reached a standstill.
“We need to get fuel into Gaza right now. Fuel is the only way for people to have clean drinking water. If not, they will start dying of dehydration,” warned the commissioner of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, yesterday.
On the other hand, the death toll from Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza has reached 2,450, surpassing the total toll of the 2014 war that lasted almost two months and was, until now, the bloodiest ever experienced in the enclave.
That brutal aggression left Israel with more than 1,400 dead, most of them civilians. In addition, 56 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,200 injured in the West Bank, where numerous protests were broken up with tear gas and live ammunition fire by Israeli forces on Friday. EFE