Restoring Wadi Gaza after years of neglect

A new project launched in March seeks to clean up Wadi Gaza and return it to the nature reserve it once was. (credit: Ashraf Amra / APA images)
Residents hope the valley will become the nature reserve it once was and a lung for Gaza.

By Yasmin Abusayma | The Electronic Intifada | Apr 13, 2022

It’s not just that Wadi Gaza has become a dump. In order to get rid of the waste, people also burn their rubbish. The resulting smoke, however, can contain noxious gases…

It could be a much-needed nature reserve, a lung for Gaza’s imprisoned 2 million strong population whose movement is curtailed by an Israeli blockade that goes back over 15 years.

That, at least, is what the UN hopes as it embarks on a project to clean up Wadi Gaza, a 105 km long valley that starts in the South Hebron Hill, snakes its way through the Negev desert and dissects the Gaza Strip near its middle for nine km before ending in the Mediterranean Sea.

The project has its work cut out though. For years, the valley has been used as a garbage dump, one of few open spaces in an overcrowded strip of coastal land that, until recently, had no sewage system because Israeli restrictions prevented its inhabitants from developing their infrastructure.

Only on 23 March did the territory open its first wastewater treatment plant, a plant that had been held up for years because of Israeli prohibitions on what Palestinians in Gaza can import.

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