As the conflict between Israel and Hamas accelerates, the problems for people in Gaza have been increasing with every passing hour. Recently, new trouble has emerged in front of the general public, as the threat of cholera is looming. The threat of the disease is reportedly increasing because of a lack of sanitization in the region.
International agencies like Oxfam and the United Nations (UN) have issued a warning and have been alarmed that water and sanitation services will collapse soon, giving a space for cholera and other deadly infectious diseases to grow. The agencies have underscored that this situation will soon prevail if humanitarian aid is not delivered.
After an attack from Hamas, Israeli authorities announced a total blockade of the Palestinian territory. Following this, water pipelines were also cut off to Gaza, along with the fuel and electricity provisions that will provide power, water and sewage plants.
According to the reports, most of Gaza’s 65 sewage pumping stations and all five of its wastewater treatment facilities have been forced to stop operations. Because of this, untreated waste is being released into seas, as per the reports by Oxfam.
Reportedly, the desalination plants have also stopped working and municipalities are unable to pump water to residential areas because of power shortage.
Waseem Mustaha, a water and sanitation officer for global non-profit Oxfam, outlined that he is just witnessing impending public health catastrophe all around him, according to the reports by Al Jazeera.
He said that his family lives in a 200-square-meter apartment with 100 people and count themselves lucky as some “people sleep on the streets, in shops, in mosques, in their cars or on the streets.”
It is to be noted that few supermarkets are dealing with a deficiency of hygiene products and the private vendors have started selling water at double price since October 7. The price has reached up to 60 shekels (US$ 15), which earlier was at 30 shekels (US$ 7.40). The situation was distorted after Israeli Defense Forces launched a counterattack on Hamas-occupied territory.
While sharing concerns regarding the issue, Mushtaha outlined that his family will run out of water in the upcoming 24 hours, following which he is not sure what will happen. He was quoted saying, “We will go to the market and purchase whatever is available. We are looking to the future with bleak eyes.”
Another concern raised by Mushtaha was about children who are away from school for more than two weeks. The children in Gaza have been learning how to ration water, the age of learning mathematics and geography.
He told Al Jazeera, “Every day, I fill a bottle of water for each one and I tell them: Try to manage this.” He further mentioned that in the beginning, it was a struggle for them, but now they have started coping with it.
Mushtaha took his family to Khan Younis
Following the evacuation order by the Israeli government for 1.1 million Palestinians in the northern part of Gaza, Mushtaha took his family, including his wife and children, to his aunt’s home in Khan Younis – where citizens and residents have opened doors of their houses for their extended families and friends.
Concerns regarding dehydration and waterborne diseases
Experts have underscored that dehydration and waterborne diseases will increase the number of deaths in Palestine, which has already witnessed the killing of 4,137.