Hassan Qassem told WAFA News that his family failed to find a safe and clean swimming area along the shore of Gaza City to swim in due to sewage pollution.
The seashore is the only natural relief for the two million people living in the Gaza Strip in light of the continuing electricity crisis and the 13-year-long Israeli siege.
Sewage being pumped into the sea in Gaza, June 2019 (WAFA News)
Qassem, 39, from Sheikh Radwan, east of Gaza City, brought his seven-member family, mostly children, to the Sudaniyeh seashore but was shocked to see that the color of the water was dark brown and it smelled bad.
“The children insisted that we go to the sea for the summer vacation and due to the heat and power outages. But the disaster was the pollution of the sea and therefore I prevented my children from swimming for fear for their safety and health,” Qassem told WAFA.
The sea’s sewage pollution is mainly due to the Gaza Strip’s ongoing electricity crisis since 2006, meaning the municipalities have to pump thousands of liters of untreated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea.
The beaches of Gaza are crowded with thousands of citizens, escaping the heat of the summer and the long hours of interruption of electricity from their homes, every day.
Health authorities warn of the transmission of bacteria, parasites and viruses to swimmers because of the pollution of the sea.
Along the Gaza Strip’s 40 kilometers coastline, most areas are not suitable for swimming. Signs warning of swimming or fishing have been posted along the beach, but pollution is low in the areas of Zouaydeh and Deir al-Balah in the central province.
Unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip is about 51%, while 80% of the population depends on relief assistance provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and Arab and international humanitarian agencies.