In the beach in Sheikh Ijlin, a neighbourhood in the south of Gaza City, no one is paying attention to a nearby Islamic Jihad military drill. Children run in and out of the Mediterranean waves, begging their parents for camel rides and candy floss, ignoring the thuds as rockets belonging to the Palestinian militant group hit the water.
Thanks to a dedicated sewage cleanup effort, for the first time in years most of the Gaza Strip’s coastline is clean enough to swim in. This summer, thousands of families are rediscovering the besieged territory’s foremost recreational outlet.
Fifteen years into a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade, clean water is one of the most pressing issues for the 41km-long strip, which is home to 2.2 million people. Almost 97% of the water in Gaza’s sole aquifer is no longer potable: without proper maintenance and with Israeli restrictions on imports, sewage treatment plants were overwhelmed years ago
Untreated waste has flowed directly into the sea for more than a decade, creating an environmental disaster and polluting one of the only affordable opportunities for fun in the isolated Palestinian enclave.
McKernan isn’t telling the truth.
As CAMERA UK previously noted, even the BBC has acknowledged that it isn’t the blockade (security measures to defend against terror groups which seek Israel’s annihilation) that caused the dirty water, but bad decisions by Palestinians and their leadership:
Here’s what BBC’s Middle East correspondent (who’s of course no friend of Israel) wrote just last year:
The piped supply for Gaza’s two million residents is drawn from a natural aquifer under the Strip. But it is polluted because over-pumping causes Mediterranean seawater to flood in.
A document jointly produced by the INSS and EcoPeace (an Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian peace and environmental organisation) in 2017 – and updated in 2018 – explains in greater detail the process that led to the problem:
“The coastal aquifer, which is located under the coastal plain of Israel and the Gaza Strip, is the only source of natural water in Gaza. Due to rapid population growth, which in the last decade increased from nearly 1.5 million in 2007 to more than 2 million today, the demand for water in the Gaza Strip has surged. The increased water needs alongside the scarcity of alternative sources of water have led to the extreme overuse of the aquifer. While the renewable extraction rate for Gaza’s underground aquifer is about 60 million cubic meters of rainwater annually, Palestinians in Gaza have been drawing an estimated 200 million cubic meters a year for over a decade, leading to the infiltration of seawater into the aquifer, and therefore raising the levels of salinity far beyond WHO health regulations. […]
Gaza’s groundwater has also been extensively contaminated by sewage. The discharge of untreated sewage generated by the two million inhabitants into shallow ponds – which eventually percolates into the aquifer – has caused alarming levels of Nitrate (NO3). […]
Up to 2005, the coastal aquifer alone supplied almost the totality of the water consumed in the Gaza Strip, water of high quality. A decade later the aquifer still contributes to roughly 90% of the total water supply for domestic use, but is 97% no longer potable. As of 2015 the total water supply for domestic use in the Gaza Strip amounted to 95 mcm/y, of which 86% comes from municipal groundwater wells; 3% from UNRWA wells; 4% from desalination; and 7% from Mekorot, the Israeli Water Company.”
In June 2019 it was reported that Israel was supplying 11.5 million cubic litres of potable water per annum to the Gaza Strip, with that total expected to rise to 40 million cubic litres annually due to an agreement between the PA and Israel, brokered by the US.
Towards the end of the piece, McKernan finally cknowledges that the successful Gaza sewage clean-up project was facilitated by the (partly Israeli) organisation Eco-Peace, meaning: not only isn’t Israel to blame for Gaza’s polluted sea, but, through the work of a regional environmental organisation it’s an integral part of, it was part of the solution.