Millions of liters of sewage have been released over the past three months into the Mediterranean Sea from the Gaza Strip, according to a new United Nations report.
According to the report, an estimated 50-60 million liters of waste have been pumped into the sea. This was done in an effort to prevent an overflow of sewage in residential areas.
Normally, the sewage is pumped to prearranged sites for treatment, but the shortage of fuel in the Gaza Strip has caused disruptions in the supply of electricity. These shortages, lack of sufficient quantities of chemicals necessary for treating sewage, and spare parts, has led the Gaza officials to pump the waste into the sea.
The report prepared by Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) raises concerns that the untreated sewage is carrying Escherichia coli (e. coli) bacteria into the sea which may affect those swimming in its waters.
E. coli bacteria can cause infection in the urinary tract and the digestive system.
The authors of the report also wrote that in areas where the sewage is pumped into the sea, the color of the water is dark brown and a strong odor emanates.
Fishermen in Gaza bay claim the sewage has killed much of the fish in the area.
Officials in the Gaza Strip said there were also concerns that the pumping station in the Zeitun area would not be able to handle the sewage that had accumulated and the treatment pools would overflow.
The treatment plant requires constant electrical supply, and the OCHA report calls on Israel to lift its restrictions on fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.
OCHA says that unless electricity can run continuously it is impossible to make regular use of the sanitation equipment in the Strip.
The UN is also calling on Israel to allow the transfer of materials and spare parts that are necessary to upgrade the sewage system, and which would allow the construction of three modern sewage treatment stations in the Strip.
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