Qatari funds help prevent disease outbreak in Gaza
Money and fuel brought into the strip is being used to reactivate sewage treatment plants in Gaza and to increase the supply of clean running water to Palestinian families. The improvement in sanitary conditions reduces the chance of disease outbreak.
There was much criticism last month over the transfer of Qatari funds to Gaza, but few realize that the cash infusion to the strip will indirectly help Israel by preventing the possible outbreak of disease in the Palestinian enclave that could spread to Israel.
The Qatari payout was the first installment out of six monthly payments, $25 million each—$15 million for salaries and another $10 million for the purchase of diesel fuel—to be made to Gaza. The first payment was made three weeks ago, with the next one expected in early December.
In recent months, the worsening electricity shortage in Gaza forced the Palestinians to prioritize the operation of various facilities in the strip. In the last few months, five sewage treatment plants in the strip have been shut down, and sewage from Gaza has been pumped into the sea and streams, some of which spill into Israel.
Furthermore, before the Qatari cash infusion, Gaza residents had running water only once a week. Therefore, Palestinian families filled tubs, sinks and tanks with water, which they reused for cleaning, so they could have enough water to last the entire week.
International sources told Ynet there were fears the running sewage and contaminated water could cause an outbreak of disease in Gaza that would spread rapidly to Israel. Sources in the Israeli defense establishment confirmed this appraisal.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the consumption of contaminated water can cause diseases, such as jaundice, polio, typhus, cholera and dysentery.
But thanks to the transfer of large amounts of diesel into Gaza, the strip's sewage treatment facilities were able to resume operations, thus significantly reducing the flow of sewage into streams, the sea and the streets of Gaza.
Furthermore, increasing the electricity made it possible to provide running water more often to the average Gazan household: once every couple of days, instead of once a week.
The United Nations (UN) was not satisfied with these developments and called for preventive actions in the Gaza Strip. However, due to lack of cooperation from the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah (as a result of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' ongoing sanctions on Gaza), the UN had to foot the bill of a large shipment of vaccines from abroad.
The shipment of vaccines from India was allowed into the strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing, despite the fact that it fails to meet the Israeli standard determined by the Ministry of Health.