The water looks crystal blue, with no trace of sewage, the yellow sand is clean and the smell in the air is salty and pleasant, giving beach-goers in Gaza their first experience in years of clean and safe beaches. Untreated sewage flowed directly into the waters off Gaza for years, causing an environmental disaster that ruined one of the few affordable opportunities for swimming available for people locked into the narrow coastal strip. This season has been different, as internationally-funded sewage treating facilities across the coastal enclave step up their operations, reducing pollution to its lowest rates in many years. People sat around plastic table sat the water’s edge, while children played with inflatable rubber bathing rings. In some areas, horse owners gave their animals a cooling sea bath.

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