I feel the following bulletin from Judith Harel of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (sent today, Thursday 5/1/2008 3:44 PM) needs no introduction. The flooding and ensuing spread of disease are not unforeseen (OCHA and other organizations have repeatedly warned they were imminent) nor are they occurring for the first time. Jewish Peace News has already forwarded warnings from OCHA and others as well as reports on previous flooding.
This occurrence like previous ones is perpetrated by Israel through the induced shortages it continues to impose upon the Gaza Strip.
To read an opinion piece by Johann Hari on Israel's subjection of Gaza to sewage flooding as it celebrates 60 years of independence, see: "Israel is suppressing a secret it must face" by Johann Hari, The Independent, 28 April 2008; http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-israel-is-suppressing-a-secret-it-must-face-816661.html?service=Print (also posted on 'Occupation Magazine' -- http://www.kibush.co.il/index.asp).
Following our Gaza Situation Report on the Sewage Crisis in the Gaza Strip:
Hebrew report attached
Please be informed of the following:
Sewage yesterday flooded the Ascoolah area of Zeitoun neighborhood near Gaza city.
From 7 am to noon yesterday (during 6 hours ) there was no power to operate the pumps and sewage first flooded the station and then burst manholes and seeped from the pumping station building into surrounding fields, reaching some houses. The sewage has mostly evaporated leaving sludge and some puddles. The area is full of flies.
According to an engineer, the pumping station can hold sewage for three hours before it floods the surrounding area. The longer the power cut, the more likely the sewage will reach nearby houses which are 20 metres away.
The flooding has damaged the machinery which separates solid waste from liquid waste and it cannot be repaired until spare parts are located. So far there has been no additional flooding today. There are three other pumping stations in Gaza City which have no overflow and no fuel to power generators but so far there has been no flooding.
Sewage is also being directed into two storm water lagoons in open areas in Sheik Redwan in Gaza City and at the centre of Jabalia camp.
According to WHO the main health risk is diarrhoea which is spread by flies which proliferate near sewage. This particularly affects young children and the elderly.
Water situation remains the same with 30 per cent receiving running water once a week, 40 per cent once every four days and 30 per cent once every other day.
Power cuts remain at three-four hours per day.
Fuel update The Gas Station Owner Association has emptied the tanks at Nahal Oz and are storing the fuel at seven locations in Gaza Strip. They say they will continue to take fuel from Nahal Oz but will not sell it to the public until Israel guarantees an adequate supply. A committee of the association will meet over the week end to decide what to do with the fuel they now have.
Cooking Gas, the association says they have received 290 tonnes of cooking gas (daily need 350 tonnes). The bulk has been distributed to bakeries and institutions and the rest is now being distributed to the public who are allowed to buy only 6kg per family. A standard canister is 12 kg.
Industrial Gas: 1,000,000 litres expected to be delivered today.
For more information please contact Judith Harel, OCHA firstname.lastname@example.org, 054 6600528
Communication and Media Analyst
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHAoPt
Tel:02-582-9962 / 5853
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