Children waded through sewage submerging the streets of a central Gaza neighborhood on Thursday, a day after one of the blockaded Palestinian enclave’s largest waste water treatment plants stopped for lack of fuel.
Fetid muck, which bubbles up from manholes and overflows from the idle plant when waste goes untreated, could soon spill into the homes of tens of thousands more residents in downtown Gaza City, officials and residents said.
Egypt’s months-long crackdown on cross-border smuggling tunnels that used to bring fuel in cheaply has already forced Gaza’s only power plant to stop, meaning two weeks of daily 12-hour blackouts for the territory’s 1.8 million residents.
“This is the start of a catastrophe and unless the world listens to our cries, a real disaster may hit Gaza and its people,” Gaza municipality’s Sa’ad El-Deen Al-Tbash said.
“This is a humanitarian, not a political issue. Gaza’s children did nothing to deserve being stuck in sewage,” he told Reuters.
Gazan municipality officials said the treatment plant served 120,000 residents. They warned that other waste water facilities may soon run out of petrol to fuel generators.