50,000 new mothers in Gaza unable to breast feed due to lack of drinking water

Gaza Palestine Child Children

NPR reminds us that “mothers who breastfeed need to drink extra water to be able to produce milk for their babies.”  Also lacking power to do surgery, in order to deliver babies requiring emergency C-sections, Gaza’s doctors have used only the light of mobile phones.  Pregnant women are being told by hospital staff that they can’t receive care unless they’re fully dilated and ready to delivery and, they and their newborns are dismissed only a few hours after delivery. (1)

Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine (https://www.waterjusticeinpalestine.org/) reports that “in Gaza, Israel has long made the denial of water a weapon of mass destruction.  Usually about 30% of Gaza’s water supply is purchased from Israel, with the rest depending on electricity and fuel for purification. (2)   On October 12,  the World Health Organization reported that the cut off of electricity meant there was not enough power to operate water wells, desalination and purification plants and sanitation services, with sewage and solid waste accumulating in the streets.  WHO announced two days later that air strikes had damaged six water wells, three water pumping stations, one water reservoir and a desalination plant serving over 1.1 million people.  UNICEF, which had opened that desalination plant in 2017,  reported that people were forced to drink highly salinated water leached into the aquifer from the sea, which was further contaminated by the 120,000 cubic meters of untreated wastewater being discharged into the sea every day. (3)  It is worth repeating that the use of water as a lethal weapon against Palestinian civilians is not new.  For several years, Water Justice in Palestine has been documenting and reporting the following facts:

• Israel diverts water in the West Bank from Palestinian communities to its illegal settlements. • The 650,000 Israelis living in settlements are allotted six times more water than the three million Palestinians living in the West Bank. • Israeli settlements consume as much as 700 litres/person/day of water—while Israel restricts some Palestinian communities to 10–20 liters/person/day—far below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of a minimum 100 litres/person/day. • In the summer, Israel routinely cuts the water supply to Palestinians by as much as 50% to meet settlers’ consumption needs. • Nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water, but illegal settlers have enough piped water for personal use, swimming pools, spas, farms, and orchards. • Israel’s control of more than 80% of the water in the West Bank, its illegal settlements, Separation Wall, and military zones have deprived the Palestinian economy of nearly 65% of the most fertile and best grazing land. • At most, 35% of irrigable Palestinian land is allowed to be irrigated, costing the Palestinian economy more than 100,000 jobs per year. • No Israeli settlement in the West Bank has a sewerage system. Their wastewater and sewage is released into Palestinian water sources and land. 80% of the garbage generated by Israeli settlements is dumped on Palestinian land. • Nearly half of Palestinian children in rural areas now suffer from diarrhea (the biggest killer of children under 5 years old in the world) because of sewage and poor water quality. (4)

According to American Journalist and author (Harvard Divinity School grad, former NYT prize-winning reporter and foreign correspondent) Chris Hedges, all is going according to the Israeli plan:  “Hospitals and clinics, lacking fuel, medicine and electricity, have been bombed or are shutting down. Clean water is running out. Gaza, by the end of Israel’s scorched earth campaign, will be uninhabitable, a tactic the Nazis regularly employed when facing armed resistance, including in the Warsaw Ghetto and later Warsaw itself. By the time Israel is done, Gaza, or at least Gaza as we knew it, will not exist.”  He continues that “Not only are the tactics the same, but so is the rhetoric. Palestinians are referred to as animals, beasts and Nazis. They have no right to exist. Their children have no right to exist. They must be cleansed from the earth.”(5) 

MARY LYNN CRAMER, MA, MSW, LICSW, has a background in economics and clinical social work, a/w/a Truth and Justice activism. She can be reached at [email protected]

(1)  https://www.npr.org/2023/10/28/1209246907/about-150-women-are-giving-birth-in-gaza-each-day-with-no-clean-water-or-electr

(2)  https://gisha.org/en/october-2023-targeting-civilians-is-a-war-crime/

(3)  https://www.unicef.org/stories/unicef-seawater-desalination-plant-helps-head-gaza-water-crisis

(4)  https://www.waterjusticeinpalestine.org/fact-sheets

(5)  https://chrishedges.substack.com/p/listen-to-this-article-exterminate

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