By Nour Abu Aisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) - Basic services across the blockaded Gaza Strip will be reduced by roughly 50 percent due to funding shortfalls, the Union of Gaza Municipalities announced Wednesday.
At a press conference in Gaza City, the head of the a non-governmental body, Nizar Hijazi said the move was aimed at heading off the "total collapse" of the strip's services sector.
Hijazi attributed the move to a lack of funding and chronic electricity shortages that have led to the steady decline of economic and living conditions across the besieged coastal enclave.
According to Hijazi, Gaza's municipal authorities have been forced to close Gaza's public beach due to plans to pump untreated sewage directly into the sea.
"We have no choice," he said. "We don't have enough fuel to operate sewage-treatment plants."
"Fuel shortages will also negatively impact the delivery of water to people's homes," added Hijazi, who went on to warn of a "looming environmental disaster that could affect the lives of everyone in Gaza".
Hijazi called on local and international aid agencies to "shoulder their responsibilities and intervene urgently to prevent the further deterioration of basic services".
The Gaza Strip continues to groan under a decade-long Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has effectively destroyed the territory's economy and deprived its more than two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.