[News] Gaza subjected to air strikes, water crisis

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 14 12:56:35 EDT 2010

Gaza subjected to air strikes, water crisis

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 13 September 2010

Three Palestinian farmers were killed by Israeli tank shelling late 
at night 12 September in the northernmost occupied Gaza Strip, along 
the no-go "buffer zone" enforced by the Israeli military. Al-Jazeera 
reported that a 91-year-old farmer, Ibrahim Abdullah Abu Saeed, and 
20-year-old Ismael Walid Abu Audeh were killed immediately. Abu 
Saeed's 17-year-old grandson, Hossam Khaled Abu Saeed, was critically 
injured and died shortly afterwards 
shelling kills Palestinians," 12 September 2010).

Israeli officials claim the three men were armed fighters, preparing 
to fire a rocket into Israel.

The "buffer zone" Israel has imposed on Gaza land along the boundary 
with Israel has taken 35 percent of the territory's open agricultural 
land, according to a recent report by the United Nations Office of 
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 
the fence and a hard place," 19 August 2010).

OCHA adds that between January 2009 and July 2010, 22 Palestinian 
civilians were killed by the Israeli military inside the "buffer 
zone," including six children. An additional 146 Palestinians, 
including 27 children, have been injured by live fire.

These killings come on the heels of several concurrent air strikes 
launched by Israel over the occupied Gaza Strip on the evening of 9 
September, on the eve of the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr 
marking the end of the month of Ramadan. Israel says the attacks were 
in response to two rockets fired from armed resistance groups in Gaza 
earlier in the day, though no group claimed responsibility.

According to Ma'an news agency, Israeli missiles struck Gaza City and 
the southern border city of Rafah, and another missile hit the 
northern town of Beit Hanoun 
("<http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314327>Overnight air 
strikes hit Gaza, 5 said injured," 10 September 2010). Ma'an reported 
that five Palestinian security service officers were injured during 
the attacks on Gaza City, which struck a Hamas security compound. An 
additional Palestinian-fired rocket landed in the Negev desert 
following the Israeli air strikes, Ma'an added.

These Israeli air strikes were the second round since the US-brokered 
peace talks resumed last week in Washington, DC. On 4 September, 
Israeli warplanes bombed two tunnels in Rafah, killing two 
Palestinians and wounding two others.

On Sunday 12 September, a rocket fired from Gaza hit southern Israel 
without causing damage or casualties, the latest in a series of 
rockets fired from armed groups inside the Gaza Strip in the last week.

Gaza families denied visits to prisoners

Preceding the 9 September attacks by the Israeli military, a 
committee of Palestinian mothers of political prisoners held an 
annual rally outside the headquarters of the International Committee 
of the Red Cross in Gaza City, protesting the continued incarceration 
of their sons and daughters inside Israeli prisons. Ma'an reported 
that the group has held demonstrations and vigils on the eve of the 
Eid celebrations for the past four years 
("<http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=314352>Mothers of 
prisoners mark Eid in protest," 10 September 2010).

As part of its broad-based policies of blockade against Gaza -- 
following the electoral victory of the Hamas party in 2006 -- Israel 
has prohibited Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip from 
visiting their relatives in Israeli prisons. Recent estimates from 
Israeli human rights group B'Tselem indicate that more than 6,100 
Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are currently 
imprisoned in Israel 
on Palestinians in the custody of the Israeli security forces).

Water crisis

Meanwhile, B'Tselem released an in-depth report on the expanding 
water crisis inside the occupied Gaza Strip, stating that 95 percent 
of the area's groundwater is polluted and unfit for human consumption 
as Israel's ongoing blockade prevents entry to essential industrial 
materials needed to repair the water infrastructure 
supplied in Gaza unfit for drinking; Israel prevents entry of 
materials needed to repair system," 23 August 2010).

"Since it began its siege on the Gaza Strip, in June 2007, Israel has 
forbidden the entry of equipment and materials needed to rehabilitate 
the water and wastewater-treatment systems there," states B'Tselem. 
"The prohibition has remained despite the recent easing of the siege."

Citing reports from the United Nations' Environment Program, the 
Palestinian Water Authority, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility 
and international aid organizations, B'Tselem's report says that 
children are being especially affected by the water crisis in Gaza. 
The report references the over-pumping of groundwater, combined with 
poor wastewater management systems and the toxification of ground 
soil from waste disposal sites -- where asbestos, medical waste, oils 
and fuels were dumped after Israel's three-week attacks in 2008-09. 
As a result, according to B'Tselem, chemicals such as chlorides and 
nitrates are contributing to excessive diseases and internal 
injuries, especially in Gaza's children.

Israeli air strikes during the winter attacks also damaged wastewater 
treatment plants in Gaza, and damaged thirty kilometers of water 
networks, eleven wells and six thousand residential water tanks. 
Reports estimate that the damage to the water infrastructure amounted 
to approximately $6 million.

"According to international aid organizations, twenty percent of 
Gazan families have at least one child under age five who suffers 
from diarrhea as a result of polluted water," B'Tselem reports. "A UN 
study published in 2009 estimates that diarrhea is the cause of 12 
percent of children's deaths in Gaza. The lack of potable drinking 
water is liable to cause malnutrition in children and affect their 
physical and cognitive development."

"Since the beginning of the siege," adds B'Tselem, "Israel has 
prohibited the entry of equipment and materials that can be used to 
improve water quality and taste, and to develop and rehabilitate the 
water infrastructure and the wastewater treatment facilities in Gaza. 
The prohibition has remained in force even after the recent easing of 
restrictions, and despite the [Israeli government] Cabinet's decision 
to allow the entry of building materials for projects that have been 
approved by the Palestinian Authority and are supervised by 
international organizations. The equipment needed includes water 
pumps, pipes, generators, computers, building cement and chloride. 
Israel classifies these materials as dual-use items that are liable 
to be used for military purposes, and therefore prohibits their entry."

B'Tselem called on the Israeli government to "immediately allow the 
entry of materials and equipment needed to rehabilitate and develop 
the water and wastewater treatment systems there."

Siege on medical treatment

Additionally, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 
released a report on the effects of regular and sustained power cuts 
in the Gaza Strip on medical patients, especially those in need of 
kidney dialysis treatment 
power cuts put lives at risk," 7 September 2010). During Israeli 
attacks in 2006, Gaza's sole power plant was destroyed. It was 
heavily damaged again during the strikes in 2008-09, and the ICRC 
reports that Palestinians in Gaza are deprived of electricity for 
seven to twelve hours a day on average.

Finding spare parts to repair electricity generators at hospitals is 
often a "protracted process," reports the ICRC. "Several factors have 
led to this situation," explains Palina Asgeirsdottir, ICRC's health 
program manager in Gaza, in the report. "Years of armed conflict and 
occupation have made it extremely difficult just to keep up with 
routine maintenance and repairs on the generating equipment and 
electricity network, let alone to increase capacity to meet the growing needs."

The ICRC adds that kidney patients face a shortage of medications 
they need, which, due to the blockade, are not readily available in 
Gaza. Asgeirsdottir states that "patients with chronic conditions 
need certain medication. Examples include drugs for kidney transplant 
patients, Factor VIII and IX for patients with hemophilia and special 
food for infants and children with food intolerance and digestive 
problems. Cancer patients have their treatment protocols interrupted. 
Without these drugs, patients suffer. They may even die."

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