Those living in Gaza experienced acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, lice and scabies.
15 years ago, a 23-day war in Gaza left 17% of farmland destroyed with little or no possibility of regeneration, according to a UNDP fact-finding report.
Now, 70 days into the current war, experts warn that irreversible damage has been done around the narrow strip that is one of the most populated regions in the world.
Air pollution is on the rise, water-borne diseases are on the rise and wildlife is suffering.
In October of this year, Human Rights Watch confirmed that Israel dropped white phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon. This chemical is known to have severe and fatal effects on humans, animals, and the environment.
The highly toxic substance burns through human flesh and ignites. It damages the soil, pollutes water sources, and poisons water ecosystems, said Khaled El-Sayed, managing director of the Cairo-based Synerjies Center for International and Strategic Studies and advisor on sustainable development.
Research has shown that the intense heat generated during combustion [of bombs]according to El-Sayed, can change the physical structure and chemical properties of the soil, thereby reducing fertility and increasing the possibility of soil-borne diseases.
Deep puddles of dirt surrounded the houses
The places where Gazans can go to escape these horrors are getting smaller and smaller by the day.
Khan Younis in southern Gaza is home to about 400,000 residents before the war. Today over a million are crammed into just over 21 square miles.
58-year-old local Ahmed Al-Astal is thankful his family is still alive, after months of bombing that has killed more than 20,000 people so far. But deep pond of filth The water surrounding his house caused new fears.
The lives of my grandchildren are at risk, said Al-Astal.
Ahmed, 4, and Fatima, 2, face the short-term threat of drowning in this sea of contaminated water and the long-term threat of chronic illness.
Ahmed has a respiratory infection and his sister has a rash all over her body, which doctors say is a symptom of a skin disease acquired from the polluted environment, Al-Astal said.
Since the Hamas 7 October deadly attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, Israel has a limited supply of fuel entering the Strip, paralyzing most utilities and services. Khan Younis municipality is unable to pump sewage to treatment stations outside the city. filth The treatment stations are not always operational because there is no fuel available for their generators.
Khan Younis was almost completely flooded with sewage, said Al-Astal, who, like thousands of others, was forced to move to Al-Mawasi, an 8.5 square kilometer sliver of land on the coast. in Gazas, which is described as smaller than London’s Heathrow airport.
Bombs dropped on Gaza contaminate the soil and water supply
The Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor says Israel dropped 25,000 tons of bombs on Gaza, the equivalent of two nuclear bombs. This, experts say, seriously pollutes the quality of the land and air. They also pollute Gaza’s water shortages, which a UN report described as largely unfit for human consumption by 2020.
According to the head of the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority (PEQA) Nasreen Tamimi, the environmental impact of the war in Gaza is a disaster, adding that a comprehensive assessment of the environmental field will show that the damage exceeds all predictions.
The corpses of the martyrs under the rubble, hazardous medical waste, the cessation of treatment and desalination All plants are contributing to the current crisis, Tamimi said, echoing UN warnings about an impending public health disaster. The World Health Organization reported a sharp increase in acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, lice, scabies and other diseases that spread rapidly.
Makeshift landfills are overflowing
Omar Matar, director of the Health and Environment Department of Khan Younis Municipality, says that the influx of people into the city has created WASTE crisis.
More than a million now live in the same space. The solid waste produced daily has increased from 150 tons to more than 450 tons. With limited resources, the municipality cannot manage the increase in volume, especially because trucks, excavators and fuel supplies are scarce, Matar said.
The municipality can only move the garbage three times a week, not every day as was the case before the war, he added.
Even after collection, Matar said the garbage was dumped in a temporary landfill set up near a residential area west of Khan Younis after Israel bombed the main landfill in the Fakhari area east of Khan Younis earlier this year. month.
This, he said, causes environmental and health hazards due to odors, insectsrats, and excrement.
In addition, agricultural lands inhabited by perennial trees such as olives and citrus fruits, or field crops such as vegetables, are subject to extensive and unprecedented destruction.
In a report issued last month, Lawfare, a non-profit multimedia publication dedicated to providing non-partisan analysis of legal and policy issues, said that the legal proportion of collateral that damage with lethal weapons used in civilian populated areas would be completely immoral, and added that the IDF airstrikes would be considered war crimes.
Ahmed Al-Astal’s 23-year-old son, Mohammed, suffers from kidney failure, requiring dialysis treatment three times a week.
Because of the poor environment, little access to clean water and gunpowder that pollutes the air, his health has declined significantly, he said.
This story was created in partnership with Right.
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