Speaking to SBS Radio‘s Ron Sutton (June 5), Dr Mona El Farra, head of the health committee for the Red Crescent for Gaza Strip, blamed Israel and to a lesser extent, Egypt, for a litany of health problems in Gaza.
On a speaking tour of Australia as a guest of the Coalition for Peace and Justice in Palestine, El Farra, who supports a one-state solution and BDS, refreshingly pointed out that Gaza has a shared border crossing with Egypt which has been open since 2011 but complained it represented only a “partial lifting of the siege” because insufficient numbers are granted right of entry and this doesn’t include people aged 18 to 40.
But from there on, it was all down hill with El Farra claiming that “Ninety per cent of the water is unsuitable for drinking in Gaza” and because it is “contaminated” through water-borne diseases “increasing number[s] of children die”. Eventually, “there will be no water in Gaza because the aquifer is finished. No water.”
Unsurprisingly she sourced this back to Israel, accusing it of destroying water wells and although she acknowledged that settlers had withdrawn “while they were staying in Gaza” their “consumption of water was too high. For example, they use seven times more than we use. They use it for swimming pools, for cleaning their cars. Why we use it? We use it to drink.”
Except Israel’s Gaza settlements took their water from the Israeli water system, not groundwater, and Gaza’s creeping salinity problems from overuse began before Israel entered the area in 1967.
But as I previously noted in June 2012, according to the Israel Defence Forces there are at least 27 water and sewage purification projects in place in Gaza – all of them facilitated by Israel, and not a single one funded by Hamas.
Of course, El Farra did not mention that there was sufficient water to meet the needs of the Crazy Water Park in Gaza which featured three swimming pools, a canal 100 meters long, three water slides, and ponds with pedal boats. Incidentally, this entertainment facility was harassed by Hamas for allowing men and women to mix, and in September 2010, a mere five months after it opened, it was burned to the ground by a highly organised team of up to 25 masked assailants.
Curiously, the name “Hamas” was not even mentioned once by El Farra even though it has controlled Gaza since June 2007.
El Farra’s solution for Gaza’s purported health crisis was to demand “freedom of movement of medications and supplies…because 50 per cent of basic medications and supplies are lacking in Gaza all the time”.
Again, as I noted here a few weeks ago, in June 2011 Mahmoud Daher, the Gaza office director of the World Health Organization, explained that shortages of medicines resulted from “a failure by the Palestinian authorities to pay suppliers on time and a lack of cooperation between health authorities in the West Bank and Gaza.”
SBS‘s website noted that El Farra held a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and no doubt plied him with her propaganda.
Which is a pity, because she would do better to demand the world hold Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to account for their woeful and negligent governance.