Correction: Oxfam water equipment delayed by manufacturer, not Israel

A Palestinian boy waits near a water purification station to fill up bottles of potable water, in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, on 11 July 2012.

Ashraf Amra APA images

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.

Original post

Israel has blocked the international development organization Oxfam from bringing vital equipment into the Gaza Strip to help make drinking water safe.

“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.

“There is no water at all. I don’t even find a drop to wash my face,” Gaza student and writer Malaka Mohammed tweeted yesterday. “As a result [I] had to buy it!”

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.




Israels blocked is the reason for the misrable life of 1.7 Million people in Gaza! Israel as the occupaire is full resbonsible for this people, why does the world dont force them to pay and take care of the Gaza children, women and old ziviliens? The biggest open air prison Gaza is Israel made!! We have to stop them! Zionism is terrorism!


Accidents happen, but sources should be double careful where ethnic blame and hatred is concerned. To blame Israel for a delay and let it be headlines over a weekend and then squeak with "oops, mistake" is not fair and probably could have been avoided. BAD!


No “ethnic blame or hatred” was ever expressed. “Israel” is not an ethnicity but an entity/state. Its siege of Gaza, and its severe restrictions on imports of many items are not in doubt, nor is the water crisis in Gaza as a result — as the Oxfam statement makes clear. This particular story, however, was incorrect. It was promptly and quickly corrected. Anyone who clicks on the link for the story will see the correction. There is literally no more prominent way to have admitted an error.


By the time this irrefutable correction exonerating the Israeli blockade entirely was published, the original story had been picked up and disseminated worldwide. It was an honest mistake, as one expects EI to have properly vetted its sources. This was more than a mere mistake; the correction will be dismissed and the preferred version of events (the original story) will be adhered to. Finding fault with sloppy journalism should matter regardless of which truth it serves.