A new report by the United Nations said the Gaza Strip may become “unlivable” by 2020, while Israel said the Palestinian terror group Hamas is largely to blame for the situation.
According to the report, the population in Gaza is growing faster than the coastal territory’s infrastructure and economy, which are deteriorating more rapidly than expected.
“We predicted some years ago that Gaza would fast become unlivable on a host of indicators and that deadline is actually approaching even faster than we predicted—from health access, to energy to water,” Robert Piper, the U.N. coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities, told AFP following the report’s release.
The report said Gaza’s population, which is currently 2 million and is projected to grow to 2.2 million by 2020, is being squeezed as resources like food and clean water become scarcer, and while pollution and energy shortages become more prevalent.
“Over one million Palestinians in Gaza are moderately to severely food insecure, despite many of them already receiving food assistance or other forms of social transfers,” the report stated, adding, “It is forecast that by 2020 Gaza’s coastal aquifer will be irreversibly damaged. The impact of this will be catastrophic.”
Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Gaza faces a maritime blockade, administered by Israel and Egypt, due to Hamas’s terrorist activities.
Hamas has been embroiled in a decade-long dispute with the Palestinian Authority (PA) that has ramped up in recent weeks. The PA has cut salaries to its Gaza-based employees, while raising taxes on diesel imports and reducing electricity to Gaza in a bid to force Hamas to cede control of the territory to its Palestinian rival.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said the U.N. report shows Hamas “has brought nothing but pain and destruction to the residents of Gaza.”
“The continued exploitation of humanitarian aid by this terrorist organization harms Palestinian civilians and sabotages the efforts of the international community,” he said.