United Nations officials are warning that millions of Palestinians face dehydration and are at risk of waterborne disease in an escalating water crisis as Israel continues to withhold essential supplies from Gaza in the wake of Hamas’s 7 October attack.
Clean water is running out in the Gaza Strip after its water plant and public water networks stopped working. Currently, the water production capacity is a mere 5% of its usual daily output.
Fuel is vital to operating essential facilities such as desalination plants, and water pumping stations.
The last functioning desalination plant shut down due to lack of fuel, as did the last functioning wastewater treatment plant, the UN reported.
Israel turned on one line of water in the south of Gaza for three hours, but the UN relief agency in Gaza said it serves only 14% of the population.
The UN estimated that average water consumption in the strip has dropped to three litres per person per day.
96% of Gaza's water unfit for human consumption
Even before the current war, residents of Gaza faced a severe water shortage. Most of their water comes from the Coastal Aquifer, which suffers from over-extraction, saltwater intrusion and sewage infiltration and is on the brink of collapse. This water is salty and brackish, and as much as 96% of it is not fit for human consumption.
Some people have resorted to drinking seawater, which is highly saline and contaminated with untreated sewage, according to a WHO spokesperson. Fuel shortages and air strikes have also led most water trucks to suspend operations.