Sewage flows from an outlet into the sea in front of the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. Each day, 70,000 cubic metres of raw sewage pour into the beachfront, polluting it beyond use. Image Credit: AP

Ramallah: Power cuts have wreaked havoc on Gaza’s environment as sewage treatment plants struggle to keep up with the inflow of sewage.

The plant, as well as everyone else in Gaza, only has around 3-4 hours of electricity a day which is not enough to process the sewage of Gaza’s nearly 2 million residents. As a result, untreated sewage water is being dumped into the ocean.

In April, the Palestinian National Authority stopped paying Gaza’s electricity bill, which is supplied by Israel, in a move that could lead to a complete power shutdown in the territory whose two million people already endure blackouts for much of the day.

The decision was another sign of a hardening of Palestinian National Authority’s policy towards its Hamas rivals, who control the enclave.

Gaza municipalities are now each dumping about 70,000 cubic metres of untreated drainage into the Mediterranean daily — the equivalent of around 140 medium-sized swimming pools.

Around 60 per cent of the beach coastline is now unsafe for people to swim in and the pollution has already started reaching coastline areas of Egypt and Israel.

People who come into contact with the polluted water are at increased risk of contracting skin, ear and eye infections.

The pollution will also cause marine life on the Gaza coast to die and will threaten the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen.

An Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza, in place since 2007, has prevented the enclave from importing much-needed machinery to build new sewage plants or to renovate existing ones.