Marian Houk, The Electronic Intifada, 31 March 2009
(Marian Houk is a journalist currently working in Jerusalem with experience at the United Nations and in the region.)
"During Israel's invasion of Gaza, it was predicted that the heavy bombing and shelling across the territory could breach the earthen walls of the sewage collection ponds there and cause a large, potentially catastrophic, sewage overflow. These fears arose from recent experience. In March 2007, six people drowned in a sudden flood of wastewater when the earthen retaining walls at a sewage lagoon, weakened by neglect and heavy rains, collapsed in the northern Gaza hamlet of Umm Nasr, near Beit Lahiya.
During the Israeli attack in January, there was a breach in one of the earthen embankment walls of a sewage containment lagoon in Gaza due to some form of Israeli military activity resulting in a large sewage flood.
Although the incident was only reported recently, it was evident from a United Nations analysis of QuickBird satellite images taken from space on 16 January, and confirmed by photos taken by a UN Environmental Program team on the ground in Gaza on 30 January, was an outflow from a sewage lagoon in Sheikh Ejleen, next to the main wastewater treatment plant in Gaza City.
While there was no loss of life this time, there was likely long-term environmental damage, including to Gaza's already polluted water aquifer -- the only source of water for the coastal strip -- with dangerous consequences for human health.........."