Gazans savor a cleaner sea

Palestinians in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip are rediscovering the pleasures of the Mediterranean Sea, after authorities declared the end of a long period of hazardous marine pollution.

"It has been a year since I entered the water," said 22-year-old surfer Sabah Abu Ghanem.
"As soon as I enter the water and ride the waves, I feel free and happy; all the negative energy is replaced with positive energy," she told AFP. Marine pollution has worsened in recent years in Gaza, where insufficient wastewater solutions have turned the Mediterranean into a dump.

The problem has been further exacerbated by the dilapidated infrastructure of the impoverished and overcrowded enclave.
The Gaza Strip is home to 2.3 million Palestinians who have been living under a strict land, sea and air blockade imposed by Israel since Hamas seized power in 2007.

Only the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt is outside Israeli control and it too has remained largely closed.
Gaza's only power station, which supplies electricity to wastewater plants, has been repeatedly damaged by Israeli strikes.
But six months ago, a German-funded plant began operating in central Gaza, and now treats 60,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day, which is half the enclave's sewage, according to Mohammed Masleh, an official at Gaza's Environment Ministry.

This is just the first phase of the project, and eventually, the plant could treat all wastewater in the territory. The quality of marine water in Gaza has already improved significantly. Now, according to samples collected by Gazan authorities, two-thirds of the enclave's beaches are suitable for swimming, said Masleh. With the start of school holidays and hot summer temperatures, the beach offers a refreshing...

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