The Gaza Strip has been under siege by the Israeli entity since 2007 which has imposed a land, air, and sea blockade; all of which are in violation of international law. Gaza is one of the world’s most densely populated areas with a population of 2.3 million people in an area of about 140 square miles. The besieged enclave is commonly referred to as the world’s largest open air concentration camp, as most of its inhabitants are refugees displaced by the Israeli occupation, settler-colonialism, and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. As native Palestinians have engaged in their internationally recognized right to armed resistance against colonialism and occupation over the years, Gaza has faced multiple Israeli military aggressions that have indiscriminately bombed residential buildings, commercial towers, schools, mosques/churches, and even hospitals, killing tens of thousands of innocent people.
The Zionist regime’s current War on Gaza has claimed the lives of over 13,300 Palestinans so far, including 5,600 children, about 31,000 injured, with over 6,500 missing under the rubble. With 60% of Gaza’s residential units destroyed, 1.6 million Gazans have been displaced.
The Zionist entity has used internationally banned weapons, committed multiple massacres, and violated countless international and humanitarian laws, all unaccounted for and with impunity due to unwavering US support. With the emergence of social media, independent journalism, and global activism, the Israeli regime’s horrifying atrocities are on full display before the world.
The besieged enclave Gaza has long endured a humanitarian crisis well before October 7th due to the Israeli blockade that controls everything that enters and exits the strip, limiting Gaza’s access to clean water, fuel, medicine, food, and electricity. At the onset of the Israeli regimes cataclysmic bombardment and subsequent invasion, the Zionist entity announced its inhumane decision to cut off water, fuel, food and electricity to Gaza, collectively punishing 2.3 million people whom it referred to as “human animals‘ and subhuman among other genocidal rhetoric. The Israeli regime’s blatant acts of war crimes are exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis into a humanitarian catastrophe which will be recorded as perhaps the most oppressive, barbaric, and genocidal measures witnessed in modern history.
According to the UN, 63% of Gazans before the war were food insecure and dependent on international aid, which along with other goods and necessities such as medical supplies and fuel, only entered Gaza through three main channels; the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) and Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossings through Israel, and the Rafah crossing through Egypt. The Beit Hanoun and Rafah crossings are mainly used for people movement while the Karem Abu Salem is for trade and fuel as dictated by the Israeli blockade. Since the onslaught began on Oct. 7th, the Israeli regime permanently closed its two crossings, while bombing the Rafah crossing and its vicinity thereby restricting its access. The Rafah crossing partially reopened on Oct. 21. Throughout nearly a month since, only 1,139 trucks of humanitarian aid and one truck of fuel have entered Gaza, as opposed to its pre-War usual of 500 total trucks per day.
Gaza’s two main sources for electricity are power lines from the Israeli entity and the Gaza power plant. The Israeli regime cut off its lines at the aggression’s onset, and Gaza’s power plant has stopped functioning due to the prevention of fuel from entering. The besieged strip has remained under an electricity blackout since Oct. 11, which has disrupted food security by affecting refrigeration and crop irrigation. All five mills in Gaza have stopped functioning and all 23 bakeries have shut down, with an average wait time of 4-6 hrs for half a bread portion. Essential food items have nearly depleted in the market, with whatever remains increasing in price. The World Food Programme (WFP) has expressed concern about malnutrition and starvation. All telecommunication services have shut down and all education facilities have been closed. At least 25 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals are out of service, as well as 52 other health centers, due to Israeli airstrikes, lack of medicine and fuel to run life-saving equipment, with the remaining hospitals all receiving evacuation orders due to threats of Israeli bombardment.
Gaza’s access to clean and safe water use has long been repressed due to the Israeli blockade. Even before the current war, residents of Gaza faced a severe water shortage. Only ten days into the Israeli aggression, a UNICEF report indicated water production in Gaza was at 5% of its normal daily levels. At sixteen days, the UN reported Gazans were living on less than 3 liters of water per day, far below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 50-100 liters per person per day to meet the most basic needs for drinking, cooking and hygiene.
The besieged strip is limited to three main sources of water, which have been shut down or severely limited due to the Zionist aggression:
Three seawater desalination plants normally produce around 7% of Gaza’s clean water needs. Since the recent onslaught, two of the three plants have been shut down due to damaged infrastructure, lack of electricity, and lack of fuel to run generators, with the remaining plant operating at only 5% capacity.
Three pipelines from the Israeli entity normally produce around 13% of Gaza’s water needs, including one-third of all available drinking water. The Palestinian Water Authority purchases the water from Israeli state-owned water company Mekorot. At the current aggression’s onset, the Israeli entity shut off access to water from all three lines. A few weeks later, water resumed in two pipelines, albeit intermittently, with its distribution impaired by the lack of pumping capacity. The third water line in Northern Gaza has remained closed.
The Coastal Aquifer normally produces about 80% of Gaza’s water needs, which is an underground body of water that stretches along the coastline of the eastern Mediterranean from the Sinai Peninsula up to occupied Palestine. However, the water is salty, brackish and as much as 96% of it is not fit for human consumption. It is contaminated by sewage, chemicals, and seawater, and suffers from over-extraction as more than twice the amount of water is removed than is naturally replenished each year. The water is extracted through a system of about 300 groundwater wells and boreholes then treated by small desalination units. Since the recent onslaught, the damaged infrastructure, lack of electricity and fuel to run generators, has greatly impacted the desalination units ability to pump water from wells and boreholes. Additionally, all five wastewater treatment plants, which aim to keep polluted water from seeping into the ground, have also stopped functioning.
With bottled water severely limited and unaffordable due to the unlawful blockade, many are relying on water from private vendors who run small desalination facilities mostly powered by solar energy, which are local and far from sufficient. Water trucks that Gazan’s rely on to fill their containers have suspended operations due to the Israeli bombardment and fuel shortages. With cases of dehydration increasing, people have resorted to unsafe drinking water. Those living near the coast are using seawater for domestic use, bathing, and washing clothes, while others have resorted to agricultural wells with increased exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, leading to a surge in diarrhea and other waterborne diseases. With severely impeded healthcare access, public health experts are raising “grave concerns” of an imminent infectious disease outbreak like cholera and typhoid. A fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told CNN that “Fuel is water,” and that “Cutting off fuel is cutting off water.”
The recent escalation is yet the latest round in a decades long struggle between an indigenous population against settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing. The Israeli atrocities witnessed in Gaza today are a continuation of the Nakba which began in 1948. 75 years later, the native Palestinians continue to resist their colonial occupier, which the Zionist entity continues to use as a pretext to expand its occupation. The 1.6 million displaced Palestinians in Gaza today, most of whom were already refugees, are now being displaced again and made refugees a second time. Despite the Israeli entity’s genocidal campaign and inhumane blockade meant to starve the native Palestinians into submission, the steadfast and resilient people of Gaza continue to resist in their noble struggle for freedom and liberation.
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