Ramallah: Gaza dumps its sewage directly into the sea and the Gaza Valley as the ruling Hamas government is left with no choice because Israel bans import of parts needed to upgrade and renovate its sewage treatment plants which are out of service, claims a senior official.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Yousuf Ebrahim, who heads the Environmental Quality Authority, said that a sewage treatment plant for the middle district of Gaza is awaiting completion for want of parts and equipment. “The situation remains the same since 2000,” he said. “The municipalities of the middle district of Gaza have not been able to get rid of the wastewater and are forced to dump their sewage into the sea and the valley.”

Dr Ebrahim said that Israel targets Gaza’s environmental infrastructure and has used the Gaza blockade imposed on the Strip to ban all machinery and spare parts urgently needed to renovate the sewage treatment plants.

The Gaza Strip has three main sewage treatment plants including the Northern Plant, the Ajleen Plant and the Eastern District Plant. Those plants had been used at full capacity in Gaza to treat the wastewater so it could be used later for agricultural purposes or dumped into the sea with no environmental harm. “Israel aims at creating an unhealthy environment in the Strip but the systematic pollution which has resulted also has unexpected consequences for Israel itself,” he said.

“It is true that the Israeli-caused pollution has badly and directly hit the residents of the Gaza Strip but it has also had negative consequences on Egypt and Israel itself,” he said.

Some areas in Egypt including Northern Sinai and Arish and Al Majdal, and Asdod and Ashkelon in Israel have been affected by the pollution.

An environmental delegation from Gaza has recently visited Egypt and briefed officials on the facts on the ground.

The Egyptian Environmental Association in Al Arish is preparing to sue Israel at Al Arish Court as it holds the Jewish state responsible for polluting the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Gaza Valley. The association also accuses Israel of polluting the marine life in Sinai and Gaza, polluting the underground water, the reduction in tourist activities in the area, a drop in fish quantities and also for the change in the colour and smell of the sea water.

“Gaza should be given the chance to complete, upgrade and renovate its sewage treatment plants effective immediately as per the needs of the increasing Gaza population,” said Dr Ebrahim, adding that the issue of electricity and sustainable power sources provided to these plants should also be given top priority.