GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – U.N. agencies and international aid groups urged Israel on Thursday to immediately ease its Gaza Strip blockade to allow in spare parts and building materials to repair the territory's dilapidated sewage and water networks.
In a joint appeal, they also warned of environmental and health hazards, not only to Gaza, but to nearby Israel.
Some 13 to 21 million gallons (about 50 to 80 million liters) of raw or partially treated waste sewage are pumped from Gaza into the Mediterranean every day due to lack of treatment plants, and some of the waste is floating toward Israel, U.N. officials said. An aquifer shared by Gaza and Israel is running low and its water is increasingly unfit for consumption, they said.
"We need the full cooperation of the government of Israel to allow in the necessary supplies and equipment so we can collectively address the problem," said Maxwell Gaylard, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the Palestinian territories.
Israeli officials had no immediate comment Thursday.
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