Gaza faces water crisis amid groundwater decline: Official
Palestinian officials blame Israel for Gaza water crisis
GAZA CITY, Palestine
The Gaza Strip is facing a massive water crisis as a result of the depletion of the territory’s coastal aquifer, a Palestinian official warned on Monday.
There is "a continuous, high rate drop in the groundwater level in most areas of the Gaza Strip,” Mazen Al-Banna from the Water and Environmental Quality Authority told reporters ahead of World Water Day.
Marked on March 22, World Water Day highlights the importance of fresh water. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Al-Banna, who heads the Planning and Awareness Unit at the Water Authority, said Gaza’s sole coastal aquifer fulfils more than 90% of the water needs of the territory’s residents.
He warned that the salinity rate of the wells' water has doubled to levels that exceed international standards for drinking water, making 98% of water from the wells unfit for drinking.
The official also blamed sewage intrusion in Gaza’s underground water reservoir due to poor infrastructure, causing the pollution of drinking water in Gaza.
Al-Banna held Israel "fully responsible for the water crisis in the Gaza Strip and for the depletion of its groundwater."
He explained that Israel prevents the natural lateral flow of water along the eastern borders through its wells and prevents the flow of surface water during the rainy season through the various valleys.
Al-Banna said the years-long Israeli blockage on Gaza since 2006 makes it impossible to import materials needed to implement water and sewage projects and for water treatment, calling on the international community to pressure Israel to lift the siege on the territory.
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*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara