‘Storm Huda’ first hit Palestine on Wednesday as severe snow storms hit Ramallah and the higher areas in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jerusalem and Nablus. Heavy rain hit Gaza which has lead to severe flooding in some areas. In the Khan Younis area of Gaza, two-month-old Rafah Ali Abu Assi died on Friday morning due to the below-freezing temperatures.
This year’s storm follows last winter’s ‘Storm Alexa’ which brought several feet of snow in some areas and left thousands of people across the West Bank without electricity for a number of days.
In Gaza many people continue to live in houses that have not been repaired since Israel’s attacks on the area last summer or in makeshift shelters, leaving these inhabitants particularly exposed to the freezing conditions.
The fears of major power cuts in the West Bank occurring again have so far been averted yet the emergency services and municipalities have still been working around the clock. On the first day of the storm the Palestinian Authority police reported rescuing at least 450 people who were stranded in vehicles in the snow.
Ramallah Municipality established a 24 hour emergency call centre and have staff and volunteers located in emergency rooms located across 5 districts of the city in order to be able to reach people quickly if roads become blocked. The city was brought to a standstill by the first heavy snow storm that hit the city on Wednesday with roads blocked and several accidents. By Thursday heavy rains set in which began to thaw the snow before it returned again Friday afternoon and temperatures dipped as low as minus 3 degrees through the night leaving water pipes frozen in several areas. Despite this, people in major cities remain much more protected than those living in tents or in the remains of their demolished or bomb-damaged houses.
Images by MEMO Photographer Rich Wiles.