Mounds of outdated batteries threaten Gaza well being

At a landfill in southern Gaza, mounds of discarded batteries pile up, rusting cells that pose a rising well being threat to Palestinians within the enclave.

Batteries are a necessary energy supply in Gaza, the place public electrical energy provide is sparse and infrastructure has decayed since an Israeli blockade of the enclave started in 2007, the yr Hamas Islamists seized management.

“The batteries have been piling up for 15 years,” stated Ibrahim Baraka, who works on the 2,000 sq. metre (half an acre) landfill in Khan Yunis, the place residents of surrounding homes can peer in to see piles of lead and mercury waste accumulating every day.

Gaza, dwelling to 2.3 million Palestinians, has just one energy plant that runs on diesel. Gasoline deliveries are unreliable, largely as a result of blockade. The plant was additionally bombed by Israeli fighter jets throughout a 2006 battle with Hamas.

Mohamed Masleh, director of sources at Gaza’s Surroundings Ministry, estimated that there are 25,000 tonnes of used batteries in Gaza that should be recycled.

Most are at websites not fitted to storing harmful supplies.

– A harmful ‘farce’ –

Battery assortment can be a supply of earnings for the impoverished territory, the place unemployment charges hover round 50 p.c.

On a crisp morning, Zakaria Abu Sultan meandered his horse-drawn cart by the streets of Gaza Metropolis, shouting his mission by a loudspeaker.

“Anybody with broken batteries to promote?” he known as out.

“I have been wandering since daybreak to purchase broken batteries. I purchase them at greatest for 50 shekels ($15), and promote them to the scrap seller for 70 shekels,” he instructed AFP.

Sometimes, broken cells are taken to landfills, just like the one in Khan Yunis the place Baraka works, which dismantle them for supplies like plastic which can be then offered to factories.

Ahmed Hillis, director of Gaza’s Nationwide Institute for Surroundings and Improvement, stated that whereas he understood there was revenue in discarded batteries, the commerce was extraordinarily harmful.

“Tonnes of batteries are accumulating in dumps, a few of that are greater than 40 and 50 metres excessive,” he stated.

“Batteries are discovered amongst individuals and on animal carts, youngsters are carrying them round,” he instructed AFP.

“Typically we discover a father and son attempting to open them up with a screwdriver. It’s a farce and chaos,” he added.

Israel used to play a job in managing poisonous supplies from Gaza, however that stopped with the Hamas takeover in 2007.

Hamas is taken into account a terrorist organisation by a lot of the West, and it has no direct contact with Israel.

Final month, the Israeli defence ministry physique chargeable for civil affairs within the Palestinian territories (COGAT) stated {that a} second iron shredding machine had turn into operational on the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza.

The improved shredding capability “will present a major enhance within the export of iron scrap from the Gaza Strip”, COGAT stated.

Baraka stated that had raised hope for an answer to battery waste, with most agreeing the present scenario just isn’t sustainable.

Hillis in the meantime urged Hamas to ascertain clear guidelines on dealing with poisonous substances.

He stated battery waste was now being managed by individuals “who don’t adjust to any guidelines and don’t have any expertise in accumulating hazardous supplies”.

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