Israel Warns UN of Imminent Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Strip

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A water distribution point in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, 2016.
A water distribution point in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, 2016.Credit: AP Photo / Khalil Hamra

Israel warned the United Nations of an impending humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip because of severe infrastructure problems there. The Palestinian Authority is responsible for the situation that has developed in Gaza and no real efforts are being made to solve the problems, said Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Israel Defense Forces' coordinator of government activities in the territories, in a letter he sent last week on the matter to the UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nikolay Mladenov.

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Mordechai pointed out serious deficiencies in water and electricity services in Gaza: About 96 percent of the water is considered unfit for drinking and a routine and continued shortage of electricity has led to hours of blackouts in the Strip.  

On Saturday, Mladenov condemned the execution last week of three Palestinians in Gaza accused of collaborating with Israel. In a statement, Mladenov said: "Over the past decade, Palestinians in Gaza have lived through four conflicts, with no freedom, unprecedented Israeli restrictions, a dire humanitarian crisis, high unemployment, an ongoing electricity crisis and the lack of political perspective."

Over the last few days, Mordechai wrote posts in Arabic on his official Facebook page concerning the humanitarian distress in Gaza: "The electricity crisis is very near and the responsibility belongs to the Hamas terrorist organization."

"If the situation is not solved in the next few days, it is possible electricity generation will come to a halt and the residents of Gaza will face the serious implications and pay the price," he wrote.

In another post, Mordechai discussed the water crisis in Gaza, saying Hamas is disrupting the operation of the UNICEF desalination plant near Khan Yunis. Hamas is not providing electricity to the facility, so it operates only part of the time using generators and is unable to meet demand, he said.

"Instead of worrying about the welfare of residents, Hamas is harming them and making it difficult for the international organization that worked hard to supply drinking water," Mordechai wrote. "Hamas must immediately provide needed electricity to operate the desalination plant for the good of residents, but instead the terrorist organization has chosen to send electricity to its terror tunnels and the homes of its leaders."

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