UN official urges Israel to stop using water as “weapon of war” in Gaza

A United Nations human rights official has called on Israel to stop using water as a “weapon of war” in Gaza, emphasizing that the enclave’s lack of fuel is hindering the provision of clean water.

“Every hour that passes with Israel preventing the provision of safe drinking water in the Gaza strip, in brazen breach of international law, puts Gazans at risk of dying of thirst and diseases related to the lack of safe drinking water,” Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, said in a Friday statement.

“These frequently invisible casualties of war are preventable, and Israel must prevent them,” he continued, adding, “Israel must stop using water as a weapon of war.”

Arrojo-Agudo stated he wanted to “remind Israel that consciously preventing supplies needed for safe water from entering the Gaza Strip violates both international humanitarian and human rights law”.

For days, humanitarian organizations including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have emphasized the necessity of fuel to operate desalination stations and water pumps in Gaza.

According to UNRWA, roughly 70% of people in Gaza are now drinking “salinized and contaminated” water. Raw sewage has also started flowing through the streets in some areas as UN waste disposal systems are also impacted by the fuel shortages.

Dehydration and waterborne diseases are now surging in Gaza due to “salinated and polluted water consumption from unsafe sources”, Arrojo-Agudo warned Friday.

“Coupled with the massive displacement of thousands of people in recent days, this is the perfect scenario for an epidemic that will only punish innocents, once again.”

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