Israel has opened the floodgates of one of its dams in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, flooding Palestinian houses and causing severe damage.
The Israeli authorities opened the dam’s floodgates without any prior warning or coordination with local authorities in Gaza, stunning the residents of the area, the Press TV correspondent in Gaza reported late on Monday.
There has been heavy rain in the region over the past 24 hours. It seems the Israeli authorities could not handle the huge amount of rainwater and decided to open the floodgates without prior warning.
Because Gaza is located in a low-lying area and the elevation decreases on the way to the Mediterranean Sea, water gushed into the area, flooding two Palestinian villages and displacing a hundred Gazan families.
The locals say Israel intentionally caused the floods, the Press TV correspondent said.
The waters from the dam, called the Valley of Gaza, flooded houses in Johr al-Deek village, which is southeast of Gaza City, and Nusirat in the eastern part of the territory, where the Al-Nusirat refugee camp is also located.
The Valley of Gaza is about 8 kilometers long. It starts on the eastern Gaza border with Israel and ends in the Mediterranean.
The houses of many Palestinians have been flooded and a number of people are trapped inside or on their roofs, while many have also gone missing, the Press TV correspondent said.
Rescue teams are using small boats to evacuate the trapped people.
Hamas has condemned the act as a war crime and has called on all concerned parties to intervene and offer assistance to the locals.
The flooding has made life more difficult for the Gazans, especially for those still living in tents because their homes were destroyed in the December 2008-January 2009 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.
In the war, more than 1,400 people were killed, mostly women and children, and over 10,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, forcing at least 500 families to live in tents.
Very little progress is seen in reconstruction of the devastated areas in the Gaza Strip, mostly due to the Israeli blockade, which has prevented the delivery of building materials to the coastal enclave.
Gaza – Civil defense forces in Gaza evacuated tens of families from their homes in the valley town of Juhor Ad-Dik south of Gaza city Monday, as floodwaters inundated the low-lying area and filled the streets.Dr Muawia Hassanen, head of emergency and medical services in Gaza, told Ma’an emergency crews were on standby to respond to calls from rapped residents in areas adjacent to the southern Gaza city valley. So far, he noted, no injuries were reported.
Colonel Yousef Az-Zahhar, the director of the civil defense in the de facto government, said waters were collecting in the valley and sweeping down from several nearby hills, he said vehicular traffic had been prohibited on the streets leading into the flooded areas.
The flood area has cut off Gaza city from the southern West Bank, Az-Zahhar said.
January 18 2010
Jared Malsin, the editor of the English edition of Maan News Agency, has been detained by Israeli authorities.
Malsin, a Jewish-American who lives and works in the West Bank, was picked up on Tuesday at Ben Gurion International Airport, as he and his partner returned from vacation in the Czech Republic. After being subjected to eight hours of interrogation, Malsin was deemed a security threat and was slated to be deported to Prague Thursday morning. Why?
I am guessing that is Why Ma’an news the second story above failed to mention Israel flooded Gaza on purpose.
Rescue personnel in the West Bank have also declared a state of emergency. Floods have hit various areas, and flooding is expected to get worse. The civil defense called on Palestinians to avoid using coal or wood for heating, and to use heaters instead, to lessen the risk of fire. Residents were also warned to be alert to fires that could break out due to incorrect use of heating appliances.
Gaza floods: ‘We heard the mosque speaker warning and fled’
Nabil Al-Qeshawi’s home was destroyed Monday night in torrents of floodwater that inundated the valleys south of Gaza city, rendering the 19 members of his extended family homeless.
Al-Qeshawi, 61, described the incident as terrifying, “everything was normal, there were winds and rains in the area, but we dealt with them as usual. Suddenly we heard a warning message being broadcast from the mosque, but we could hardly hear it through the rain.”
When the father of five went outside to check the house, he “found floodwaters rising in the valley were only 200 meters away from my house. We started to evacuate the children and lead them to a safe place. When we went back to save some of our clothes and belongings, we found out that the house was under two meters of water, everything was ruined.”
Farmer survives drowning in valley flood
Adnan Al-Khamaysa spoke to Ma’an as he checked himself out of the Gaza City Hospital Tuesday, after being choked and battered by torrents of waters at the bottom of the valley south west of the city.
The farmer was in his home when the rains hit, and evacuated his family from the area, then walked out into the valley to check on his flock of sheep. Al-Khamaysa became trapped in the water and dragged through the current until other families down the hill managed to pull him out.
“The night was terrifying, I have seen death a thousand times, I did not expect the flood to be so strong” he said.
Officials confirm heavy losses
Yousif Abu Hweshel, mayor of the town Al-Mughraqa, hardest hit next to Juhor Ad-Dik, said at least 70 homes and hundreds of dunums of agricultural land were totally underwater.
He added that Civil Defense forces were working to find displaced families safe places to stay as the floods continue, but worried about the difficulties residents would face in the future in rebuilding their homes given the Israeli siege. Source
Gaza gov’t to provide shelter for families affected by floods
The de facto council of ministers announced on Tuesday that it will provide families affected by the recent flooding with shelter and immediate assistance, secretary general of the council Mahmoud Awad said in a statement.
Israeli Minister claims Israel provides Palestinians “more than enough water”
On Monday Israel’s National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told a meeting of German Ministers that Israel gives the Palestinians more than they are required to by treaties.
But the Palestinian Authority’s Water Board says that this statement is an outright lie.
Palestinians control only 14% of their water and last year received only 90MCM from the 118 MCM allotted by Oslo Article 40.
Even the 118 MCM are nowhere near what is needed for the population.
According to the most recent World Bank report, Palestinians get 34 liters of water per capita per day while Israelis get 280 liters per capita per day. Israelis, including settlers living on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, are permitted to dig wells 70 meters deeper than their Palestinian counterparts.
Some Palestinians wondered if Landau was referring to Israel’s flooding, on the same day he made the statement, of Palestinian villages in the Gaza Valley. Hundreds of Palestinians were displaced from their homes, which suffered severe damage when Israel opened a dam directly toward the Palestinian area.
Link to World Bank report below.
A little update I just picked up
January 18 2010
German supporters of the Palestinian cause are holding a demonstration against a joint German-Israeli cabinet meeting in Berlin.
A crowd of demonstrators gathered on Monday to expressed anger at Israel’s ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing expulsion of Palestinians from East Jerusalem Al-Quds.
They have also vowed to expose Israel’s indiscriminate and targeted killings of the Palestinians, which was highlighted in Israel’s relentless three-week blitz on the tiny enclave in December 2008-January 2009.
More than 1,400 Palestinians, including women and children, were killed in the onslaught during which Israeli soldiers committed war crimes by using human shields, targeting schools and UN buildings that were hosting civilians.
Meanwhile other activists held a protest to decry Germany’s potential sale of military equipment, stressing that the country’s constitution did not allow the sale of arms to any sides of an ongoing conflict.
The protests come amid Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Germany for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The meeting is aimed at boosting security cooperation and bilateral relations, but German media have also speculated it may entail a fresh Israeli requests for more free or half-priced German arms.
Ahead of the joint cabinet meeting, media reports said Israel intends to station one of its German-made Dolphin submarines in the Persian Gulf.
Since 1998, Germany has spent EUR 900 million in providing Israel with five Dolphin class submarines. Source