Gaza: Bathers enjoy clean sea water for the first time in years

“We couldn’t come before because the sea was polluted. If we did, my kids would come home with viruses’

A refreshing and unusual scene in the Gaza Strip last week – residents enjoying clean sea water after years of untreated sewage flowing directly into their coastal waters.

For years, untreated sewage has flowed directly into Gaza waters, leading to an environmental disaster that has ruined one of the few affordable bathing opportunities on the coastal strip.

“We couldn’t come before because the sea was polluted, and if we did, my children would come home with viruses. We suffered a lot from skin diseases,” said Sahar Abu Bashir. Reuters.

“But today my kids are swimming and I feel like we’re not going home with illnesses,” she said.

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This summer season is different, as the Palestinian enclave’s sewage treatment facilities — largely funded by EcoPeace, an Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian NGO — are reducing pollution to its lowest rate in years.

Gaza’s Environment and Water Quality Authority, led by de facto Hamas leaders, said sewage dumped into the sea was now partially treated, making 65% of the beach safe and secure. own.

The shores of the enclave were packed last week as locals flocked to the beach in scorching temperatures.

With most of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians unable to travel – partly due to high rates of poverty and unemployment as well as Israeli and Egyptian border restrictions for security reasons with the Islamist militant group Hamas – a chill beach provides an escape from the harsh reality they face.

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