Gazans gets clean seawater for first time in years

The ocean is crystal blue and free of filth, the yellow sand is pristine, and the air smells salty and pleasant, providing beachgoers in Gaza with their first taste of clean and safe beaches in years.

For years, untreated sewage has poured directly into the seas off Gaza, generating an environmental disaster that has devastated one of the few cheap swimming chances accessible to Gaza’s residents.

This season has been exceptional, according to environmental officials, since internationally-funded sewage treatment plants around the coastal enclave have ramped up their operations, decreasing pollution to levels not seen in many years.

“We couldn’t come previously because the sea was dirty, and if we did, our children would bring infections and skin problems back home,” said Sahar Abu Bashir, 52.

“Today, the area and the water are both clean. We had the impression that we were in another nation “‘I’m a mother of four,’ she told the journalists.

The vast sandy beach was practically devoid of red flags advising beachgoers not to swim due to the scores of millions of cubic meters of untreated sewage that used to flow into the ocean every day.

At the water’s edge, people sat at circular plastic tables, while children played with inflatable rubber bathing rings. Horse owners in certain locations bathed their animals in the water to keep them cool.

According to Hamas’ Environment Quality and Water Authority, sewage thrown into the sea has been largely cleansed, making 65 percent of the beach safe and clean, with plans to increase.

“Because of the considerable increase in the quality of saltwater, the summer season in Gaza Strip will be reasonably safe compared to past years,” said Mohammad Mesleh, director of environmental resources.

According to local and international figures, 2.3 Palestinians live in Gaza, which covers 375 square kilometers (145 square miles). The majority of them cannot afford to go since poverty and unemployment are about 50%.

Both Israel and Egypt retain restrictions along their Gaza borders, citing security concerns with the Islamist organization Hamas, which controls the enclave.

People flocked to “The Old Nights,” a beachside resort erected on a mountaintop overlooking the beach in Deir Al-Balah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Families dined within brightly colored wooden buildings designed to replicate natural-colored hilltops found in several Asian nations, said to Rami Al-Naa’ouq, the owner.

This season, his company is thriving.

“When there is no pollution, I will have a lot more customers. That helps me make up for the losses I suffered while inventing and preparing the space for the new year “he stated

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