Little is said about the drama that unfolds beneath Gaza each day, where many Palestinians continue to smuggle goods in from Egypt to the Strip. Although the Rafah border crossing was re-opened earlier this year and people can travel back and forth more easily than before, construction materials are still not permitted to cross borders; nor – naturally – are weapons.
But the subterranean smuggling business comes with a dangerous price. Three men were killed when Egyptian wastewater leaked beneath the Philadelphi corridor into a tunnel where the men were working. According to Ahram online, the tunnel collapsed three days ago, and the men were pulled out today in critical condition.
Only days before, three other Palestinians were killed when a butane gas cylinder exploded while being transported through the tunnel.
It is unclear how or why the wastewater leak occurred, but given that Egypt was poorly equipped to address its numerous environmental challenges before political insecurity settled inside and beyond its borders, it comes as no surprise that the Rafah border is being neglected.
The Coastal Municipality Water Utility is the organization responsible for water and sanitation services in the area, but its infrastructure was seriously damaged during the 2009-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict. A report taken from the International Symposium on Groundwater Sustainability (ISGWAS), ARIJ showed that only 14% of Palestinians living in the Strip felt that they had sufficient access to quality water sources.
International aid has more than trickled in and non profit organizations such as the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network are tasked with restoring the compromised Coastal Aquifer that supplies most of the water to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, but true progress can only come with peace.
:: Ahram Online
Environmental consequences of Middle East conflict:
image courtesy of wikipedia commons