Freezing, rainy, snowy cold snap hits besieged Gaza Strip

Last year, three children died after they froze inside their homes which lack even primitive warming equipment

Freezing, rainy and snowy cold snap has been hitting the besieged Gaza Strip since the start beginning of last week; forecasters predict it would continue until the end of this week.

It is one of the worst spells of cold weather that hit Palestine this winter.

The people of Gaza are being affected particularly badly, due to the shortage of fuel and lack of vital equipment as a result of the 13-year-old Israeli siege imposed on the enclave.

Palestinian weather forecasters said that the cold front, which has been accompanied with heavy rains, high winds reaching up to 90km per hour, with waves up to three metres high, and snow, would continue until the end of this week.

In response to the harsh weather conditions, the Palestinian Ministry of Works said that its rescue teams were ready to deal with any emergencies.

However, the ministry complained of severe shortages of emergency equipment due to the Israeli-led siege, as the Israeli occupation authorities do not allow many of the related machinery, including pumps, steel cables and pipes, to be imported.

The ministry also warned that old pumps might not work properly. This prompted fears of flooding and high water levels in low-lying residential areas.

In January 2015, 2016 and 2017, Gaza suffered massive floods and thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes during heavy storms.

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is now the head of the Hamas political bureau, took part personally in rescue efforts in 2015.

The situation in Gaza deteriorated after major Israeli military offensives severely damaged sewage, water and communication infrastructure, aside from the appalling human losses

The Palestinian Civil Defence put its staff on alert, fearing any emergency across the Gaza Strip, where the sewage system and rainwater pumps are not functioning fully due to the decade-long Israeli siege.

Thousands of Gaza residents are still living in makeshift tents and caravans after their houses were destroyed during the 51-day Israeli offensive in 2014.

Others are living in partly damaged properties which are susceptible to rainwater and the cold weather as they have not been repaired following the Israeli offensive.

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

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