Infrastructural damage is still prevalent from the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza Conflict, and with its only power plant recently destroyed, residents will suffer from a lack of resources indefinitely. The plant was hit during a seven-hour strike in which 128 Palestinians died, bringing the death toll to 1,200 Palestinians and 53 Israeli soldiers.
Electricity will be unavailable for months, and water restrictions are in effect because of non-functioning water pumps. Many Gazan shelters and hospitals have been disabled due to lack of power and water. Fatalities, even in the safest places to be in the country, are subsequently expected to rise.
Water is vital not only as a source of life but also as a preventive measure against disease. During the previous war, $6 million of damage was inflicted through the destruction of four water reservoirs, 11 wells, a number of sewage networks and pumping stations.
Consequently, in 2012, 95 percent of all water was contaminated and unfit for human use; pollution infected the remaining 117 water wells. Efforts to fix the problems have been slowed to a crawl by transport restrictions.
The water situation in West Bank and Negev is just as desperate as Gaza. Permits for water cisterns are frequently denied, and limited water sources have shifted power to those few that control clean water. Water access is now a determining factor in owning land plots. The future of businesses and the health of communities hinge upon the availability of clean water, which is increasingly hard to find.
Each water cistern costs the equivalent of a year’s wages, yet soldiers often recklessly use them for target practice to break up the monotony of standing on patrol for long periods of time. Sabotage has played a devastating role in the water shortage. Old car parts and animal carcasses have been thrown in water cisterns to intentionally contaminate water and force those in need to answer to those with water or simply to make an opposing group suffer.
Image Credit: Asmaa Waguih/IRIN
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