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Thousands in Gaza shelters as blackouts cripple emergency response
Published Saturday 14/12/2013 (updated) 15/12/2013 16:57
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BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Ministry of Information announced Saturday that the numbers of residents staying in shelters in the besieged coastal enclave had hit 5,000 as streets and homes remain flooded in large swathes of the territory.

Separately, the Gaza Health Ministry said that the number of people injured in storm-related incidents over the last four days throughout Gaza had hit 96 on Saturday, after flooding hit dangerously high levels due to record rainfall on Friday.

Gaza's civil defense force media spokesperson Muhammad al-Midna told Ma'an that civil defense teams had successfully evacuated 1,190 people from their homes since the beginning of the storm, in addition to pumping water out of flooded homes and rescuing cars trapped on flooded streets.

Al-Midna said that the hardest hit neighborhood was Nafeq Street near Sheikh Redwan, which was inundated with flood water and led to a dramatic rise in water levels in the surrounding areas.

The civil defense forces assisted many local residents in evacuating their homes, he said.

Al-Midna added that the lack of electricity had exacerbated the difficulties faced by Gaza residents as it limited the ability of civil defense forces to pump water from flooded areas.

He highlighted that blackouts of over 12 consecutive hours and the lack of fuel to run generators during those blackouts had effectively crippled the ability of civil defense forces to respond for large periods of time.

On Saturday evening director of the Gaza Ministry of Information Salama Maarouf said in a report that 5,000 Gaza residents had fled their homes for shelters, where Hamas officials were providing many with bedding and other needs.

The Health Ministry had announced earlier in Saturday afternoon that 2,234 individuals from 433 families were staying in shelters, which are primarily located in schools across the Strip.

At that time, they said that many of those arriving were being brought by civil defense forces, who on Saturday continued assisting residents "day and night" in order to help them evacuate their flooded homes.

The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

The Gaza Strip has been without a functioning power plant since the beginning of November, when the plant ran out of diesel fuel as a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

The plant itself was only reopened last year after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the 2006 assault on the Strip. The power plant generates around 30 percent of the Gaza Strip's electricity supply, while the rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.

Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Gaza Strip authorities to afford.
1 ) Tommy Tank / UK
14/12/2013 19:20
Hamas have not announced that there are three main goals during storm recovery efforts: to save lives and help those in need, especially the elderly, to restore power to the areas still cut off, and to prepare for more floods that are expected in the coming days due to heavy rains.

2 ) Boils / Romania
14/12/2013 19:21
On Friday, Israel opened Keren Shalom main crossing with Gaza, to allow in fuel supplies and four water pumps to help relieve flood damage.

3 ) Maureen / Australia
14/12/2013 19:59
Hopefully the Hamas arms warehouses, workshops and rocket tunnels are inundated with water, but surely Hamas are sending emergency teams, to help their people.

4 ) Mel / USA
14/12/2013 21:37
#2: There's no compassion in Israel opening the crossing AFTER the present human-health crisis(sewage/garbage) started weeks prior to this flooding. It was Israel that bombed Gaza's desalination/power plants & continued its war crimes,ethnic punishment blockade on 1.8 MILLION people,for being non-Jews &voting democratically for Hamas,B4. Israel sending token supplies,after the FACT,is short-shrift cruelty.Israel caused this EFFECT on Gaza.It's 'relief' is temporary &token,compared to its CRIMES!

5 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/12/2013 21:53
Legally, it's actually Israel's responsibility to address this situation. She exerts de facto sovereignty over Gaza -- she either has to relinquish that or accept that she's as responsible for what goes on therein as the Germans were responsible for the fate of the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto.

6 ) Saburah / Misri
14/12/2013 23:12
1** Tommy Tank - I think you will find that in an unprecedented emergency like this Hamas and the Gazan factions are on the ground helping their people, not sitting in ivory towers pontificating about what announcements to make to the world. Any Hamas/Gazan hero would have instinctively known what his/her goals were with respect to dealing with this situation. - BY THE WAY, shouldn't you be back in Toy Town, playing along with your toy soldiers, instead of commenting here in the 'real' world?**

7 ) southparkbear / usa
14/12/2013 23:30
haram ya maureen, resistance first. it does not matter to what just resistance.

8 ) In / Gaza
15/12/2013 00:29
To no. 2. No Israel didn`t let any fuel in yet, they may allow fuel tomorrow ( after the storm is over ) To no. 1. to restore power to the areas still cut off. WITH THAT, STILL WAITING FOR FUEL

9 ) Robby / USA
15/12/2013 05:31
Don't worry, the billions in aid from Arab countries will help.

10 ) SHAMELESS HAMAS that / spends millions to
15/12/2013 11:35
acquire and build ROCKETS To kill ISRAELI CITIZEN and not spend money for infrastructure for their citizen (simple suage system to flow into the sea!!) and now beggs for HELP FROM IDF!!!! SHAMEFUL!!!

11 ) Dargo / CH
15/12/2013 14:39
To #9: Arabs do not support Palestine. It's a lie. When they announce aid, it is rarely sent to any Palestinian agency. It's just hot air so that they calm the public in their countries, otherwise they'd be in trouble (which I hope happens sooner than later.)

12 ) Rafael / Brazil
15/12/2013 15:01
"It's just hot air" because your countries ask Arab states to keep their money so as to not disrupt the effect of Israeli sanctions, as even Fatah denounced.

13 ) g / usa
15/12/2013 15:24
hamas have also accused the Palestinian Authority of charging too much for fuel. quote from other news outlet. people stop blaming israel. if your own people charge your own people for needed fuel, then there def something wrong with your people and nothing will help you, well you dont deserve to be helped anyway. its like spain charging spain for milk

14 ) Blood / Romania
15/12/2013 16:28
@6 You clearly have no idea of the connotation of ''Tommy Tank'' and it's meaning. @8 You are misinformed, fuel diesel and bottled gas for heating and cooking, went in on Friday. Perhaps your Gazan ministry of misinformation, that claims the myth of dams being opened and rivers is responsible.

15 ) @ Colin-5 / USA too
15/12/2013 16:57
That is complete nonsense, where every sovereign state has a right - to CLOSE BORDERS to a neighbor that bombs, abducts, etc., AND - to impose a naval BLOCKADE on a state that maintains a state of war, and such internationally accepted and legal action actions do NOT, "Exert De Facto Sovereignty Over" such a neighbor !!

16 ) @ Gaza-8 / USA
15/12/2013 17:06
The only solution to the situation imposed upon Gaza's civilian is 1- to remove Hamas, and other militant elements, by force, and 2- to install a Gaza government that prioritizes protecting civilians now, rather than maintaining a futile resistance of rocket attacks & abductions, which justifies both the closed borders with Israel & Egypt, and the internationally legal naval blockade imposed by Israel.

17 ) southparkbear / usa
15/12/2013 20:47
due to the rising water hamas is too busy moving rocket and explosive from the basement of the hospitals in gaza to the emergency room and the clinics

18 ) Maureen / Australia
16/12/2013 21:54
#7 hasbaraparkbear, #3 is an imposter... but then you know, eh?

19 ) Outlier / USA
19/12/2013 19:05
Money for missiles and mortars against Israel, but none for Gaza infrastructure. Hamas should be ashamed.
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