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Heavy rains in Gaza bring new fears for homeless Palestinians

Winters can be wet and cold in Gaza, and the enclave is sometimes hit by flooding.

November 14, 2023 at 5:10 pm

Heavy rain in Gaza today brought new concerns and challenges for Palestinians, many of whom are homeless and living in makeshift tents after weeks of Israeli bombardment, Reuters reports.

The start of the rainy season and the possibility of flooding increased fears that the densely populated enclave’s sewage system will be overwhelmed and disease will spread.

At a UN shelter in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, the rain brought dismay for displaced people who woke to find the clothes they put out to dry the night had been drenched by rain.

“We were in a house built of concrete and now we are in a tent,” said Fayeza Srour, who sought safety in the south after Israel began bombing the Strip on 7 October.

“The nylon tarps, the tent and the wood will not resist any flooding… People sleeping on the floor, what will they do? Where will they go?”

Winters can be wet and cold in Gaza, and the enclave is sometimes hit by flooding.

Another displaced Gazan, Karim Mreish, said people at the shelter were praying for the rain to stop.”Those children, those women, those elderly pray to God that it doesn’t rain,” he said. “If it does, it will be very difficult and words will fail to describe our suffering.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week that Gaza faced an increased risk of disease spreading because Israeli air bombardments had disrupted the health system, limited access to clean water and caused people to crowd in shelters.

UNRWA: More than 13,000 cases of skin disease in Gaza due to water shortage

It voiced concern yesterday about the prospect of rain causing flooding and overwhelming already meagre and damaged sewage facilities.

“We’ve already got outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said in Geneva.

She said there were more than 30,000 cases of diarrhoea in a period when WHO would normally expect 2,000 cases.

“We’ve got so much infrastructural damage. We’ve got a lack of clean water. We’ve got people very, very crowded together. This is another reason why we are begging for a ceasefire to happen now,” she said.

Ahmed Bayram, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said the start of the rainy season could mark “the most difficult week in Gaza since the [military] escalation began.”

“Heavy rains will mean more impeded movement for people and rescue teams,” he said. “It will make it harder to save people stuck under the rubble, or to bury the dead, all of this amidst ceaseless bombardment and a fuel shortage catastrophe.”