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Israeli authorities permit the transfer of bottled water into Gaza

Feb. 19, 2010 1:02 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 20, 2010 7:02 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – Israeli authorities agreed to allow the transfer of bottled mineral water into the Gaza Strip, beginning next month, according to Palestinian border crossings official Raed Fattouh.

Since 2006, bottled mineral water has not been permitted into the Strip by Israeli authorities. The small relaxation of import regulations follows several months on the okay to import water purification devices for home use.

Even before the siege and the Israeli war on Gaza, water resources in the area were limited, with most underground wells contaminated by salt water, and limited access to the sole aquifer. In September 2009, the Gaza Coastal Municipal Water Utility issued a report saying that unless urgent action is taken, the supply of water "fit for human use in the Gaza Strip will be depleted in 5-10 years."

The import of drinking water, now still and sparkling, will improve the available resources for residents faced with access difficulties, and help guarantee water reserves when pumps and desalinization equipment break.

Crossings closed Friday

Gazans will have to wait until March to see any mineral water, and until Sunday to see any goods at all, as Israeli authorities announced the closure of all crossings into the Gaza Strip on Friday, finishing off a slow week at the crossings, where below minimum levels of supplies were permitted into the Strip.

A report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a report Thursday, saying the below minimum levels of industrial fuel and cooking gas allowed into the strip has seen the "electricity crisis continue, as power supply has been further reduced, and remains precarious. Cooking gas rationing continues and limited shipments of exports and entry of glass continue."

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