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The BBC's Frank Gardener
"According to the environment minister, Israel is pumping 30,000 cubic metres of waste water a day into the Gaza valley"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 16:02 GMT
Israel accused of polluting Gaza
Gaza Strip camp
Concerns that groundwater could be contaminated
By Frank Gardner in Gaza

The Palestinian environment minister, Dr Yousif Abu-Safiya, has accused Israel of pumping waste water and sewage into Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip.

The minister said on Tuesday that Israel had pumped half a million cubic meters of waste water into a riverbed across its border over the last two weeks.

Gaza Strip residents carry their shopping
Economic sanctions are taking their toll
After nearly six months of border closures and economic despair, Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip thought life could not get any worse - but it has.

According Dr Yousif Abu-Safiya, Israel is pumping 30,000 cubic meters a day of waste water into Gaza Valley.

This narrow dried up riverbed runs from Israel across the Gaza Strip and into the Mediterranean.

Palestinian officials fear that the next time it rains, the water will wash whatever is in the valley out into the sea.

Harmful chemicals

Dr Abu-Safiya says this would pollute the beaches and drive the fish further out to sea where Palestinian fisherman are unable to follow them because of Israel's blockade of the coast.

But he said the biggest hazard was from harmful chemicals getting into the Gaza Strip's natural groundwater.

He said the underground water was the main water source for 1.25 million Palestinians and if it became polluted, it would be unfit for either human or agricultural use.

The minister said this alleged pollution by Israel, violated international agreements and could even threaten the environment of the Mediterranean.

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12 Mar 01 | Middle East
Palestinian disease fears
12 Mar 01 | Middle East
Arab aid slow to reach Palestinians
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