Gaza city finds itself facing an tide of untreated sewage following the shutdown of the area’s largest water treatment plant and the city’s only power plant for lack of fuel. With Egypt’s months long crackdown on smuggling tunnels in full effect, closure of most of the estimated 1,200 tunnels run by the Islamist Hamas group has virtually stopped Egyptian fuel coming into Gaza, forcing Palestinians to buy Israeli imported gas at double the price – 6.7 shekels ($1.9) a litre.

Fetid muck, which bubbles up from manholes and overflows from the idle plant when waste goes untreated, could soon spill into the homes of tens of thousands more residents in downtown Gaza City, officials and residents said. Gazan municipality officials said the treatment plant served 120,000 residents. They warned that other waste water facilities may soon run out of gas to fuel generators.

Egypt’s military backed government fear the tunnels are used to take weapons into the Sinai Peninsula, and accuse Hamas of backing the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted by the security forces in July. Israel has imposed its own blockade on Gaza, allowing in fuel and a restricted list of imports since Hamas took control in 2007.

Gaza economist Maher Al-Tabbaa’ said the shortages of fuel and power meant that many businesses could not afford to run a generator, which costs about 100 shekels ($28.5) an hour. “The continuing stoppage of the Gaza power plant for 18 hours a day foreshadows a real catastrophe that might affect the basic food security of the people as well as the health and education sectors,” Tabbaa’ said. For the full story, please follow the link below.

In.Reuters.com

photo by: Mohammed Salem

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