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The Gaza Strip is a Man-made Environmental Disaster

The Gaza Strip is occupied and blockaded by Israel causing cumulative devastation of land and natural resources. This has ramifications on physical and psychological health and also detrimental effects on the environment and the resources people use.

In fact, the last three Israeli aggressions on the Gaza Strip targeted water, sanitation and energy infrastructure. Electricity is only available for 4-8 hours per day, the amount and quality of water is dangerously below internationally accepted levels, and sanitation facilities cannot function at required levels. Fuel is not available in adequate amounts due to the Israeli blockade.

So, while the temperature is not an indicator of humanitarian response, it is a reminder of the conditions that Palestinians in Gaza are forced to endure without adequate housing or basic services, and a reminder of the need for aid actors to provide long-term solutions.

The winter of 2014-2015 was cold; five Palestinian babies died in the Gaza Strip from exposure to cold, some of them in donor-provided shelters. The summer of 2015 was hot. Virtually none of the donor-provided housing responses are adequate to protect human life under these conditions. For example, some of the 500 families still living in caravans are reporting temperatures up to 55 degrees Celsius (131 Fahrenheit) inside their living areas. With use, caravans crack and develop structural faults. They are prone to destruction due to flooding in winter and can become unbearably hot in summer.

Without electricity or fuel, people cannot use air conditioning or fans or heat; they cannot keep food fresh; without water and sanitation, they cannot keep clean and healthy. Left with no options, things people do to cope often further pollute the environment and undermine the fragile infrastructure.

Temporary aid solutions are a symbol of the inefficacy of the international response to severely deteriorating conditions and increasing threats to health and rights.

How will Palestinians in Gaza survive another year without aid that helps them live normally? Why should Palestinians live another year without aid that helps them claim their basic human rights?