Mar 4, 10:54 AM EST

Israel to double water supplies to Gaza Strip amid tensions

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli officials say they are doubling the amount of water provided to the Gaza Strip, despite a bloody war last summer against the territory's Hamas rulers.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said in published remarks Wednesday that Israel would increase water supplies from 5 to 10 million cubic meters (1.3 to 2.6 billion gallons) per year to relieve what he called a "severe water problem due to excessive overuse of groundwater resources."

Gaza suffers from chronic water shortages, making tap water undrinkable and forcing the territory to send large quantities of raw sewage into the Mediterranean.

Mordechai said he hopes Hamas "would not steal water from civilians as they steal construction materials intended for the reconstruction of houses."

Gaza's water authority said it was unaware of Israel's decision.

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