Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Without Chlorine Gazans Must Boil Water

This is another re post. As we in this country enjoy our daily conveniences of free flowing water and electricity, let's remember that there are others in this world of ours who don't share those same benefits.

There are so many people in the world who do not have access to clean, safe drinking water or predictable fuel sources or electricity. Those in Gaza, Iraq and many other places around the world live with hardships we will probably never know. In some ways, we contribute to those hardships, and we should be aware of the ways in which we do. We might be oblivious to it, but others in the world are not. It is one of the reasons why America is so unpopular throughout the world at this point in time.

This is a heartbreaking story about the water problems in Gaza:

Without Chlorine Gazans Must Boil Water
By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer
Wed Feb 27, 12:51 PM ET

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The Gaza Strip has run short of chlorine because of an Israeli blockade and its 1.5 million people should start boiling their drinking water to purify it, the territory's water utility said Wednesday.

The Coastal Municipality Water Utility made the announcement in radio and newspaper advertisements, telling residents that the blockade has left Gaza without enough equipment and supplies needed to maintain the water system. Officials said there have been no deliveries of chlorine, needed to purify the water, since Jan. 21. More than one-third of Gaza's water supply is now untreated, said Maher Najjar, deputy director of the utility.

Najjar said 52 of 140 wells used to supply water to Gaza residents were out of chlorine. "I expect by the week's end all the wells will run dry of chlorine," he said.

The authority said there is a "major concern over a health disaster due to possible contamination of the drinking water" and appealed to the international community for help.

The Israeli military said the Palestinians did not make a request for chlorine until Wednesday, and it was urgently trying to arrange a new shipment into Gaza.

Most residents already don't have regular water supplies because of a shortage of fuel used to pump water. Many people already use filters or bottled water because the quality of tap water is generally poor.

Israel imposed sanctions on Gaza after the Islamic militant Hamas seized power last June. Israel has tightened its blockade in recent weeks in response to repeated rocket attacks on southern Israel by Gaza militants.

On Wednesday, an Israeli student was killed in a rocket barrage on a college just outside Gaza, after seven Palestinians, including five Hamas militants, were killed in Israeli airstrikes.

Under the sanctions, Israel, the main gateway for Gaza's imports and exports, has allowed little more than basic humanitarian goods to enter the territory. It also has reduced fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza.

Most Gaza residents who can afford to do so filter Gaza's salty, brackish tap water before drinking it. However, that does not kill the bacteria, Najjar said.

He said the real danger were children drinking untreated water.

"I can't stop people drinking the water," Najjar said.

In an area used to shortages and hardship, residents did not seem especially panicked.

"For 16 years I've been boiling the water," said Mohammed Masoud, a restaurant owner. "I'm not worried about the poison in the water — everything here is already poisonous," Masoud said.

A Palestinian boy drinks from a water tap as others wait to fill up water containers in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008. The Gaza Strip's water provider on Wednesday urged the area's 1.5 million people to boil their drinking water, citing a dire shortage of chlorine as a result of an Israeli economic blockade. The chlorine shortage is another addition to Gaza's water woes. Most residents don't have regular water supplies because of a shortage of diesel, used to pump water.
(AP Photo/ Eyad Baba)

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