Insight Online News
WASHINGTON, May 21 : Israel’s bombing campaign has left Palestinians without access to drinkable water and adequate medical care, Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) Executive Director, Zeaid Abbas Shamrouch, told Sputnik.
On Thursday, Israel’s cabinet accepted Egypt’s initiative for a bilateral ceasefire with Palestine. Earlier in the day, UN officials renewed calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza strip to allow for humanitarian access as clashes between Israelis and Palestinians entered day eleven.
“The Israelis bomb buildings and buildings collapse on other buildings. Key COVID centers have been destroyed… I have gotten calls from hospitals and clinics. They have a shortage of basic items,” Shamrouch said. “Sewage systems are out, which impacts water… the roads have been destroyed. People are killed or die from not being able to be taken to the hospital.”
Shamrouch, whose California-based organization has been operating in the region for more than three decades, said all of Gaza’s water is undrinkable and the challenging conditions that the two million Palestinians have been living under just got considerably worse.
MECA operates water purification and desalination systems because 98% of the water in Gaza is polluted. However, the bombings, Shamrouch said, have damaged many water networks and because electricity is only on for a few hours a day, the water purification units are no longer functioning.
As a result, the organization has been handing out water bottles, although they do not have enough to cover all the schools, where nearly 50,000 displaced Palestinians have taken cover, according to the UN.
He also said children are in need of milk and food. They have been buying food and fruit from farmers who say, “pay me later” because there are no banks.
Shamrouch, himself a Palestinian refugee, used a recent personal story to illustrate the extent of the crisis.
“I have a friend who has a family in Gaza,” Shamrouch said. “The family is living in 3 apartments and when the bombing started everybody moved and now 50 people live with them.”
Shamrouch said the conflict revolves around issues of superiority, discrimination and apartheid.
“This is a colonial system. They took our land like Algeria, South Africa and like here [the US] during the Civil Rights movement,” he said. “We are an oppressed people fighting for our rights on the ground, fighting for fairness in international law.”
However, rather than feel crushed, Shamrouch said he feels hopeful. Palestinians have come together and are raising their voices.
“We will be free. We will be able to access our rights,” Shamrouch said. “I can imagine the freedom that’s coming.”
Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 220 Palestinians, including 64 children, since tensions rose on May 10, while Hamas rocket attacks have killed 12 people in Israel, according to authorities. Israel’s military said Hamas has fired over 3,700 rockets at Israel.