Heavy Rainfall Displaces Already Displaced Gazans Seeking Shelter in Caravans following Israeli Aggression

GAZA, November 27, 2014 – (WAFA) – Internally-displaced Gazans, sheltered in donated caravans after having lost their homes in the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza, were forced out of their shelters after rainfall completely flooded them, displacing them once more.

Thousands of Palestinians, who were displaced after their houses were either leveled or partially destroyed and are no longer safe to live in as a result of the latest Israeli 51-day onslaught on the strip, have started to suffer from the harsh winter, making the stark circumstances they have been facing even worse.

According to the Palestinian Housing Ministry, the Israeli aggression on Gaza caused the destruction of 9,000 homes, while 8,000 others were partially destroyed, displacing thousands of Palestinians.

During  the aggression, thousands of Palestinians were forced to seek shelter in UNRWA-run schools, in hospitals, which were already flooded with injury cases; some even built makeshift tents out of sticks, sheets, or cardboard boxes to shelter their families.

Almost three months after the end of the aggression thousands are still displaced and living in UNRWA-run schools, while many others have chosen to live in caravans on the rubble of their homes.

The Popular Committee for Breaking the Gaza Siege warned that residents of the strip would face “catastrophe” if winter came before they had found shelter.

The fierce winter storm that has battered the region since Monday has aggravated the dire humanitarian situation in the coastal enclave, especially after rickety infrastructure networks, including wastewater drainage systems were damaged during the recent 50-day Israeli onslaught.

Due to the poor state of infrastructure situation in Gaza, dozens of Palestinians living in al-Nafaq district in the northern part of Gaza city started Thursday to vacate their homes after being flooded by heavy rainfall, said witnesses.

Inhabitants of first-floor apartments and low asbestos-roofed homes in al-Nafaq district started to vacate their homes after heavy torrential rainfall caused water levels in the nearby Sheikh Radwan pool to overflow and inundate the district roads and alleyways.

The inhabitants expressed their fear that a humanitarian disaster would befall them if their homes are flooded with the mixture of rainfall and wastewater, which would cause huge material losses and damage.

Main roads and junctions across the Gaza Strip were flooded by torrential rains mixed with wastewater with water levels reaching up to one meter, which blocked individual movement and vehicular traffic.

In Jabalia refugee camp, Abu Rashed rainwater harvesting pool was almost full, prompting the inhabitants of nearby homes to take every precaution in case of an emergency.

Torrential rainfall flooded the central part of the camp, particularly the Trans area, obstructing the movement of inhabitants, school students and vehicular traffic.

An UNRWA report stated that 18 UNRWA school buildings continue to serve as Collective Centres for 25,414 internally-displaced Palestinians.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said regarding the reconstruction process of Gaza, that a “A genuine commitment by Israel is required to enable the needed material to be brought to Gaza, adding that, “For the time being the process is much too slow and largely ineffective. Should this continue we will reach the winter with no progress in rebuilding the homes of the many still displaced, including those still in UNRWA schools. The people of Gaza deserve much better and much more than that.”