Water crisis, Gaza is dying

Gaza Dr. Ahmed Tawahina 1

Water crisis, Gaza is dying

A doctor and residents of Gaza,

Ahmed Tawahina

1. Will two million Gaza citizens be able to survive?

Palestine has been under Israel’s occupation for 50 years…
Gaza was just months away from running out of safe drinking water, and the threat and violence of Israeli army is continuing to escalate. Safe drinking water in Gaza is vanishing, the report says polluted water is causing kidney disease among many people. A disease epidemic could happen at anytime.

The water crisis in Gaza is not a natural disaster, nor technical issue, but is man-made. It is the political power of Israelis’ occupational forces that are not allowing Palestine to dig wells deep enough to gain non salted water. By the political sophism, the issue in Gaza may be posed to be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. People are only looking at the armed attacks and frequent violence of the Israeli army towards unarmed citizens. But because of this, a problem which is necessary for a human beings to survive may be hidden. Water and electricity connect directly Gaza citizens to live… This is an even greater threat to the wellbeing of the Palestinian population than the guns and bombs of the military occupation.

2. The Gaze water crisis is like a ticking time bomb…

Gaza is one of the planet’s most densely populated areas, and it is almost totally shut as if to imprison. With dire water and electricity shortages, a day might come when this “ticking time bomb” is exploited to kill the citizens of Gaza. The lack of adequate water treatment facilities also means raw sewage floods streets, residential areas, homes and agricultural land. The public health through spreading disease is now becoming at risk, and someday it may spread beyond the prison walls to Israel. (Israel made the walls of 8 meter to keep anyone from coming in and out freely.)

3. Poor families may spend up to a third of their income on drinking water!

The water crisis has worsened over the decades. Municipal tap water, which is often cut due to power shortages, is too salty to drink. (Gaza citizens refer to this water as “the salt water.”) The high salinity of the groundwater affects agriculture. Many of famers have had to abandon traditional crops such as strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes in favor of salt tolerant crops. Today, water also contains high levels of nitrates and other pollutants.

Municipal tap water is generally only used for household chores and for washing, and it is frequently causing skin diseases and other infections. Inevitably, Gaza citizens get their drinking water from private vendors, who deliver water from desalination plants. However, poor families may spend up to a third of their income on drinking water supplies.

4. Intestinal parasites infect children throughout Gaza!

Drinking saline water can cause kidney dysfunction, heart failure, neurological symptoms, lethargy and high blood pressure. Water in Gaza contains high levels of fluoride which is toxic, causing gastritis, ulcers, kidney failure, bone fluorosis (causing bone fractures and crippling,) and tooth fluorosis (causing black lines around gums and tooth decay.) More generally, adults and children are at risk of a range of water-related diseases. According to the World Health Organization, Gaza’s contaminated water is responsible for 26% of all disease in the territory, and 50% of Gaza’s children suffer from water-related parasitic infections. Intestinal parasites infect children throughout Gaza. Parasitic infections and chronic diarrhoea also affect a child’s growth and development. High nitrate concentration in drinking water is particularly dangerous for infants.

Infants suffering from blue baby syndrome may show signs of blueness around the mouth, hands and feet. They may have an episode of trouble breathing, diarrhoea and vomiting. In extreme case, the condition can be fatal. Blue baby syndrome was first registered during the 1990s in Gaza. A 2002 study found that 48.5% of babies had high methaemoglobin levels. This blood disorder results in higher than normal levels of methaemoglobin, a form of haemoglobin that does not bind oxygen. There are no recent studies on the prevalence of blue baby syndrome in Gaza, but nitrate concentrations have steadily increased over the past 15 years.

5. The desalination water purifier device.

I am Ahmed (last name). I am a citizen of Gaza and also a doctor. I have been providing healing camps for the children and students who are suffering mentally and have wounds in the body from the bombs of the Israeli army. We have received donations from the Earth Caravan members of Magali and Lawrence, and were able to connect with Ryokyu Endo. This August, we were planning to invite Ryokyu and Mayu Endo in Gaza to have a workshop and give treatments for the people who have traumas in their heart and body. However, the request was rejected by the Israeli army, and my wish didn’t come true. Despite this, Ryokyu said he would put desalination water purification supplies at my centre. The water purification device cost about twelve thousand dollars, and he promised somehow to collect money for the device. He is planning to enter Gaza in March and place the desalination water purifier. If there is a desalination water purifier, people in our neighbour can drink saltless water. We understand that we need to keep the purifier in maintenance, and we will collect money from our users towards the maintenance fee. I will continue to give trauma healing to young people, and at the same time I am wishing to give safe drinking water that connects everyone’s lives. Please, even with a small amount, we kindly ask for your cooperation.

Gaza Dr. Ahmed Tawahina