After five years of the blockade, the sanitary conditions have now reached a crisis point. The only source of running water in Gaza is too dangerous for humans to consume.
In a new report, the charitable organizations have called on Israel to immediately lift its blockade so that crucial sanitation equipment can be sent into Gaza.
Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians state in their report that the levels of contamination are often more than ten times that higher than what is considered to be safe levels for consumption. Poor families in the area have no choice but to drink this water. Because of this, the number of children being treated for diarrhoea has doubled in five years.
Save the Children director Valerio Neri says, “The children of Gaza are living in prison-like conditions, entrapped on a strip of hostile land that prevents them from even dreaming of a better future. Since the beginning of the blockade in 2007, the number of children under 3 years of age being treated for diarrhea has doubled.”
He added that conditions were so dire in the region that “even a simple case of diarrhea can be fatal for a child.”
In their report, the charities state that lack of investment and war damage are the root causes of this sanitary crisis. Israel's repeated bombing of Gaza has left the sewage system "completely broken."
The BBC reports that the Israeli government states that they have eased up on the blockade in the region recently, in an effort to curb this crisis. The government states that building materials and medical supplies are being allowed through the blockade to aid in reconstruction in Gaza.
However, Haaretz quoted way back in 2009 that the water supply was on the verge of collapse, and the situation has not improved since. Now the report by the charities calls on the international community and the Palestinian Authority to do more to improve the situation.
The report states categorically, "As a matter of urgent priority for the health and well-being of Gaza's children, Israel must lift the blockade in its entirety to enable the free movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza."
Besides the dangers of the contaminated water in Gaza, Save the Children quote the following statistics relating to the children:
* More than 70 percent of nine-month-old children in Gaza are anemic;
* 140 Palestinian children lost their lives due to the continuing violence in 2006;
* Some two thirds of children living in the West Bank and Gaza do not have safe areas for entertainment, socializing and playing sports; and
* Some 40,000 children under 18 years old work in the West Bank and Gaza — 73 percent of whom need to work due to their families' severe financial conditions.