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The Impact of the Israeli offensive (27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009) on the Water and Sewage Sectors in the Gaza Strip

Prelude

 

Israeli actions during the December/January 2009 offensive inflicted severe damage on the humanitarian, economic and social infrastructure of the Gaza Strip, including vital facilities upon which more than 1.5 million Palestinians depend. Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the offensive, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians, including 281 children and 111 women. In addition, more than 5,300 Palestinians were wounded. Civilian objects, including homes, factories, farms, medical and educational institutions, and other humanitarian organizations, were also extensively destroyed.


During the offensive, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) deliberately targeted the water and sewage infrastructure; for example, water tanks and wells were damaged or destroyed, which in turn negatively affected the daily life of civilians in the Gaza Strip, violating their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Over the course of the offensive, IOF violated numerous provisions of international humanitarian law, including articles 33 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention related to the prohibition of collective punishment, and the protection of civilian property.

 

The Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip coincided with Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade which – at the time of the offensive – had been in place for more than two and a half years. Under the blockade regime, IOF deny, inter alia, the entry of equipment necessary to repair the water and sewage infrastructure in the Gaza Strip; these restrictions have continued following Israel’s declaration of a ceasefire.

 

This report highlights the devastating impact of the Israeli offensive, focusing on the water and sewage sectors in the Gaza Strip, and detailing the consequences of the continuing illegal blockade. Finally, it addresses Israel’s and international donors’ legal obligations with respect to international law and international humanitarian law.

 The full report is available PDF format.

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