UN warns of 'walking into another Gaza crisis with eyes wide open'
'Unless urgent measures are taken to de-escalate, the crisis risks spiraling out of control with devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis,' warns UN Middle East Envoy Mladenov, regarding a lack of electricity and water, and raw sewage spilling off Gaza shores.
"In Gaza we are walking into another crisis with our eyes wide open," envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the 15-member Council. "Unless urgent measures are taken to de-escalate, the crisis risks spiraling out of control with devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis alike."
"The Palestinian Authority, Hamas (...) and Israel, all have obligations for the welfare of Gaza's residents and must live up to their responsibilities to address the crisis and overcome this political impasse," Mladenov said.
Mladenov said that in April the Palestinian Authority cut salary allowances to nearly 60,000 public sector employees in Gaza and the Gaza power plant, which supplies a third of electricity, stopped working due to a dispute between the PA and Hamas over fuel tax.
He said power lines between Egypt and Gaza are down for technical reasons, leaving only Israeli electricity lines, which provide 60 percent of Gaza's power. However, in April the PA said it would no longer pay Israel to supply Gaza with electricity.
Mladenov said that if that happened, electricity supply to Gaza would be further reduced by 30 percent, creating more hardship for the population.
He said the majority of Palestinians in Gaza were already only receiving about four hours of electricity a day and this could be halved. Mladenov added that desalination plants were only functioning at 15 percent of capacity and drinking water is supplied for a few hours every 2 – 4 days.
The envoy said that 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage was being discharged daily into the Mediterranean Sea, equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools.
"An environmental disaster for Israel, for Egypt and Gaza is in the making," Mladenov warned.