A waste treatment pool in the Gaza Strip. (Ruth Fremson for The New York Times)
The lagoon tragedy seemed a sort of metaphor for Gaza – overcrowded, dependent, coping with makeshift answers to long-term problems. But the lagoon, which held 120,000 cubic meters, or 4.2 million cubic feet, is dwarfed by the huge lake of sewage it was built to reduce.
That lake, itself the overflow from a 30-year-old plant, now contains some 3 million cubic meters of water and human waste, covering about 40 hectares, or 100 acres, and it is again creeping close to the danger point. Its sand embankment was reinforced this summer and two more outlet ponds have been dug in the sand. But more waste enters daily than is discharged, the lake is only about two meters below the embankment, and the winter rains are coming.
And yet the project to fix the problem is stalled by politics and conflict. Israel has declared Gaza “hostile territory” and is sharply limiting goods allowed to be brought in to the territory. The restrictions cover many ordinary items not considered essential to human life.
But they also cover any materials – from metal pipes to welding machines to the wire used to refurbish electric motors – that Israel has decided could have a secondary use by the Hamas administration and the Palestinian gunmen who are firing rockets across the border into Israel.
Israel, with the obligation to protect its citizens, is trying to pressure Hamas both militarily and economically. It says it will now reduce supplies of diesel fuel, gasoline and even electrical power in response to the rocket barrages.
I seem to recall that I wrote about the last time that Palestinians were drowned in their own shit when the last dam broke . Opining at the time that it was poetic justice of a sort and it seems to me that they are reaping the folly of not learning from their own history ,yet again.
As a much younger man I saw several intractable conflicts in the world, the IRA were setting off bombs in my own native England and the PLO were hijacking planes and murdering Israeli athletes. The IRA are now largely a memory but The Palestinians are still dreaming of driving every Jew into the Mediterranean sea. This story is meant to suggest that the “wicked Jews” are collectively punishing those” poor Palestinians”. Frankly for the Hamas supporters in the Gaza the situation they face is one of their own making, Had they been willing to move on and cease firing rockets and mortars from the Gaza then they would not be facing the blockades that they do now. I will be sad if more Palestinians are killed if there is another dam collapse, but the people of Gaza will be reaping what they have sown.