Moataz Sukkar no longer runs to his home’s balcony in the Gaza Strip to welcome the year’s first autumn rain.
The young Palestinian man had to carry out an urgent chore after rainwater spread through the floor of his house: fix the fragile spread of nylon sheets and cloth rags he had installed to cover the roof after it was blown off by Israeli warplanes during the latter’s recently-ended devastating offensive on the coastal enclave.
“This is exactly what we have feared; that the rain season will begin before the reconstruction process [for the strip] does,” Sukkar, 23, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday. “This morning the rain ruined our only option for covering up the roof.”
In Gaza City’s eastern Shujaya district, which had been heavily targeted by Israeli bombardments, Mohamed al-Moghni screams at his children to stay away from the streets surrounding their partially-destroyed home after they were flooded with rainwater.
“We were flooded with rain inside our damaged house because I haven’t been able to repair it,” he said as he attempted to get rid of the water inside his house using a number of buckets.
Already underdeveloped as a result of a years-long Israeli siege as well as two past wars in the recent past, the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure was substantially damaged during Israel’s latest offensive, which spanned 51 days of deadly bombardments between July and August.
Much of the embattled territory’s sewage system and road networks, as well as water wells, have been destroyed during the bombings, leaving large pools of rainwater mixed with sewage all over Gaza as wet weather threatens to exacerbate the strip’s post-war affliction.
Over 2,160 Palestinians were killed and over 11,000 injured during Israel’s latest offensive, in addition to an estimated $5 billion in economic losses, according to the Palestinian government.
“Unfortunately, the rain in the Gaza Strip now brings more pain,” said Marwa Hassanein, 54.
Hassanein lamented not being able to prepare hot cakes – as she used to during autumn – for her five small children to enjoy while sheltering from the rain inside their home. This year, she said, she was too busy trying to block rainwater from flooding her house through cracked walls and shattered windows left unrepaired since the offensive ended.
The Palestinian meteorological department said that the Palestinian territories will see a cold wave with thunderstorms throughout the week.
Plans for reconstructing the Gaza Strip remain in limbo. Earlier this month, 50 states pledged $5.4 billion to the Palestinians, agreeing that half of the funds would go to the rebuilding of the Gaza strip. However, an Egyptian official has said that the promised donations will not be channeled to the Palestinian territory before the new Ramallah-based Palestinian government assumes control of it.
As of yet, the Gaza Strip remains in de facto control of Islamist resistance movement Hamas.
“Where is the reconstruction? All we get is promises,” Omar Abdel-Karim, 39, said angrily. “We are facing a huge disaster; the Gaza Strip cannot withstand a cold wave in normal circumstances, how would we survive one after the war destroyed everything?”
In December of last year, thousands of Gazan families were displaced when a severe cold wave left entire neighborhoods completely flooded.
Authorities estimated that the incident cost some$64million in direct material damage.
“Our whole lives are constantly being dogged by disasters,” Hoda Ismail, 53 said. “Instead of enjoying the weather, we are scared of even the slightest rainfall.”