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15 Nov, 2023 17:32

UN issues Gaza water warning

Key services have shut down due to Israel’s fuel blockade, UNRWA has said
UN issues Gaza water warning

At least 70% of Gaza will be without access to drinking water by the end of Wdnesday, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has warned. The agency blamed Israel’s fuel blockade for the crisis, which has resulted in the collapse of water infrastructure in the enclave.

The 23,000 liters of fuel Israel has allowed to the UNRWA on Wednesday can only be used “to transport the little aid coming via Egypt,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement. The agency needs around 160,000 liters a day for “basic humanitarian operations,” such as maintaining the water facilities, he added.

“Key services, including water desalination plants, sewage treatments, and hospitals have ceased to operate,” Lazzarini said.

It is appalling that fuel continues to be used as a weapon of war.

Supplying just the trucks will lead to more loss of life, Lazzarini said, calling on Israel to “immediately authorize the delivery of the needed amount of fuel as is required under international humanitarian law.”

Israel imposed a total blockade on Gaza after the October 7 incursion by Hamas, which killed an estimated 1,200 people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy the Palestinian group, launching air and artillery strikes against the enclave and sending ground troops earlier this month.

Lazzarini has also appealed for a ceasefire, noting that over 60 UNRWA installations in the enclave have been hit – most of them in the south of Gaza, which Israel said would be “safe” for civilians.

The government in West Jerusalem has adamantly rejected any ceasefire, or fuel deliveries to Gaza. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir declared “Diesel = weapon” on Wednesday, while Transportation Minister Miri Regev wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that “fuel for UNRWA is fuel for Hamas.”

UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide humanitarian aid and protection to palestinian refugees “pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.” It operates in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.