GAZA CITY – Thousands of Gazans have been forced to evacuate their homes after unprecedented disastrous floods destroyed their homes and killed at least one person, in what the United Nations declared a “disaster area”.
"Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see," the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) that administers refugee camps in the Palestinian territory, said in a statement cited by Reuters on Saturday, December 14.
The besieged enclave was hit by storm Alexa, deemed as the worst in the past six decades.
Heavy snowfalls, torrential rain and icy winds have caused havoc, bringing down power lines, blocking roads and trapping people in homes and cars in the Middle East.
The severe weather has also paralyzed Palestinian cities such as Hebron in the occupied West Bank as well as Al-Quds (Occupied East Jerusalem).
In Gaza, many people were trapped inside homes inundated by rising waters.
A 22-year-old Palestinian man died from smoke inhalation on Saturday after lighting a fire to warm his home, a government spokesman said.
The Gaza health ministry said 100 other people had been hurt as flood waters damaged poorly built homes in the coastal territory.
Among those injured were people who had been hit by objects falling from inundated buildings or had been in car accidents on flooded roads.
One of the most densely populated tracts on earth, Gaza is home to mostly impoverished refugees and their descendants.
Israel has clamped a severe blockade on Gaza since Hamas was voted to power in Gaza in 2006.
The siege was further tightened after Hamas assumed full control of the strip in 2007.
The crippling siege has badly worsened livelihood in the impoverished seaside strip.
The situation further deteriorated after Israel launched a three-week deadly offensive in late 2008, killing more than 1,400 people and injured thousands and left the strip in tatters.
The siege leaves most Gazans cut off from the outside world and struggling with desperate poverty.
Struggling to survive bad weather, thousands of Palestinians evacuated from their homes to take shelter in schools as the Gaza health ministry declared a state of "extreme emergency".
Around 4,000 UN workers were evacuating families and distributing emergency supplies, including fuel to pumping stations.
"The situation is dire, and with the flood waters rising, the risk of waterborne disease can only increase,” Gunness said.
“This is a terrible situation which can only get worse before it gets better."
Jabaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, had “become a massive lake with two-meter-high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands,” according to Chris Gunness, of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa.
"Large swaths of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see," he added.
Gaza's Hamas government said 5,246 people in all had been evacuated to schools and other centers used as temporary shelters in the past four days.
Gaza's 1.8 million people have also endured daily blackouts of around 12 hours since the territory's lone power plant was switched off last month due to a fuel shortage.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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