A story The Electronic Intifada published yesterday citing a senior official from Oxfam saying that Israel had prevented water disinfection equipment from entering Gaza was incorrect.
The Electronic Intifada received the following email today from Alun McDonald, Media and Communications Officer for Oxfam, explaining the error:
Thanks for continuing to raise the extremely important issue of water shortages in Gaza. However, the tweet from an Oxfam staff member which was included in the post was incorrect.
Ben was visiting Gaza and there was a mistranslation or misunderstanding in one of his meetings with local communities. In this particular case the delay in receiving the chlorometre was in fact due to delays in with the manufacturer and third party supplier, rather than a delay in bringing it from Israel or caused by the blockade.
I’m sincerely sorry for the mistake and confusion. I’d be grateful if we could issue a correction to the story
The shortage of safe water in Gaza is an extremely real and serious issue, and Oxfam continues to campaign for an end to the blockade, which we believe is in violation of international law and has devastated the lives of people in Gaza and severely restricted the movement of goods and people. However, in this case the delay in receiving equipment was not due to the blockade.
“The blockade on Gaza prevented Oxfam’s public health programme bringing in a chlorometer to help get right chlorine levels to clean water,” Ben Phillips, the organization’s Campaigns and Policy Director tweeted from Gaza today.
More than 90 percent of Gaza’s water supply is unfit for human consumption due to years of Israel’s deliberate destruction of sewage and water infrastructure, its ban on imports of equipment and pollution and over-extraction of the only underground aquifer.
As a consequence waterborne illnesses are widespread.
Phillips said that Oxfam “made an application [to Israel] to import” the equipment, but “[A]fter 8 months without agreement we had to use less effective processes instead.”
These apparently did not work. The equipment was to be shipped via Israel from a German manufacturer, Phillips added.
No water to wash your face
In addition to the poor quality of water, only a quarter of households receive running water every day, during several hours only.
The permanent electricity crisis means that water can frequently not be pumped and many Palestinian households must buy expensive bottled water.
Life conditions for Gaza’s almost 1.7 million residents have deteriorated sharply since the 3 July military coup in Egypt.
Since the coup, the Egyptian military regime has destroyed dozens of underground tunnels that have provided the only alternative route into Gaza for many basic supplies banned or severely restricted by the Israeli siege.