*”Relaxing restrictions on imports to Gaza to allow in a variety of soda and chips does nothing to help families that can’t drink the water running from their taps,”* says Subha Ghannam, EWASH coordinator.
She added that *“Instead of flooding the market with processed food items that most families cannot afford, Israel should be working with humanitarian agencies in Gaza to set priorities for the entry of materials that actually address people’s basic needs and help to improve their lives.”*
According to the report issued by EWASH, despite Israeli promises to start easing the blockade and allow in construction materials for humanitarian and relief projects, Israel continues to impose heavy restrictions on the entry of materials necessary for repair and maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure.
Less than a fifth of needed materials were allowed in since the announced ‘ease’ policy last year, said EWASH. Procedures for the entry of materials needed to bring residents in Gaza the clean water they deserve continue to be cumbersome, bureaucratic and extremely slow, delaying essential interventions, at times for years, and exacerbating the long-standing suffering of Gaza’s Palestinians.
EWASH says that the water and sanitation situation in Gaza is already under severe strain as a result of the blockade. The Coastal Aquifer, Gaza’s primary source of water, is at risk of collapse due to over pumping and sewage contamination warned EWASH. About 60-80 million liters of untreated and partially treated wastewater from Gaza are discharged daily into the Mediterranean Sea. EWASH says this has caused environmental damage and represents a health risk to Gaza’s residents and potentially to Israelis.