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ICRC: Gaza's Water Supply Suffering from Operation

Red Cross delegation leader claims clean water, electricity to Gaza suffering as a result of operation. But is it true?
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 7/15/2014, 2:23 PM

A Mekorot water pipe
A Mekorot water pipe
Flash90

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released harsh words on Gaza's humanitarian situation on Tuesday, implying that Israel is responsible - at least in part - for shortages during the eight days of last week's Operation Protective Edge to defend Israel from over 1,000 rockets fired on its citizens. 

"Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are now without water. Within days, the entire population of the Strip may be desperately short of water," according to Jacques de Maio, head of the ICRC delegation in Israel. 

"Water and electrical services are also affected as a result of the current hostilities. If they do not stop,  the question is not if but when an already beleaguered population will face an acute water crisis," he added.

"Gaza's water system has been deteriorating for years. The latest attacks are the last straw. Safe drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce in the Strip, just as temperatures are soaring. Water is becoming contaminated and sewage is overflowing, bringing a serious risk of disease," said ICRC water and sanitation expert Guillaume Pierrehumbert. "In recent days, ICRC teams have helped the authorities conduct essential emergency repairs to water and sanitation infrastructure in Gaza, improving the situation for over 90,000 people, but bolder action is urgently required."

The ICRC also adds that Israel is obligated "under international law" to "differentiate between civilian and military targets," in a series of statements that ignore Hamas's role in encouraging civilians to become human shields

Israel has continued to send humanitarian aid into Gaza throughout the operation, and continues to provide the bulk of Gaza's water, electricity, gas, and communications infrastructure - despite the fact that Hamas has fired over 8,500 rockets on Israeli civilians since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. 

Electricity was stymied for 70,000 Gazans earlier this week, as a result of Hamas terrorists misfiring its rockets on a power plant. The Israeli Electric Company did not send in technicians to repair the damage out of fear for their lives while under fire. 

Israel provides 100 megawatts of electricity to Gaza on a regular basis, much of which is purchased by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which owes Israel 1.4 billion shekels (nearly half a billion dollars) for unpaid electric bills.

Several months ago, the director of the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) called on the Israeli government to cut off the supply to the PA until it pays its debt.