Friday April 25th, 2008—The Gaza Strip has fallen eerily silent as day-to-day life grinds to a halt in the face of an Israeli fuel blockade that has forced the UN to halt its food shipments into the territory. Michael Bailey of Oxfam in Jerusalem tells The Real News Network that some 300,000 Gaza residents have drinking water at home for less than five hours per day, every four days, and the UN can no longer get supplies to the 700,000 refugees living in Gaza.
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: The streets of Gaza City stood quiet Thursday with little traffic, as fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip were expected to run out by the afternoon. Israel has heavily restricted the flow of goods into Gaza, imposing an economic blockade and bringing duress to an impoverished population that some Palestinians have termed a siege. It has further tightened the blockade in recent weeks in response to heavy fighting. On Thursday morning, residents were still able to access supplies from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, but it was expected that the UN would not be able to distribute by the end of the day. This week the shortages have intensified. The UN agency is warning that critical food-distribution operations would cease unless Israel allowed further supplies through. The head of United Nations relief operations in Gaza had this to say:
JOHN GING, HEAD OF UN RELIEF OPERATIONS, GAZA: We’re running out of diesel fuel this evening, which means that we will have to stop our major food operation here, which is feeding almost 700,000 refugees. And so that’s the first and most immediate consequence of the cut-off of fuel to the Gaza Strip. We have not received any fuel at the UN since April 1. That’s why we have run out.
NKWETA: Michael Bailey of Oxfam, Jerusalem, spoke about the humanitarian implications of the fuel shortage.
MICHAEL BAILEY, ADVOCACY AND MEDIA MANAGER, OXFAM: There are 70,000 people with no drinking water in their homes, a further 300,000 people who have water two to five hours every four days. There are 70,000 liters of sewage going into the sea every day. And if the power plant stops working in central Gaza on Saturday night, as it’s predicted to do if there are no new fuel supplies for that, then we will see all of that sewage begin to flood into the streets of Jabalia Camp and other low-lying areas in Gaza. The implications are very difficult health conditions. A population of 1.5 million people, who haven’t had adequate diets for more than nine months now, faced with no drinking water and sewage in the streets, will see epidemic outbreaks of diarrheal disease and, with a very weakened health system unable to respond properly to that and a weakened population, very sick people and possibly some fatalities in that eventuality.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.