Rains wreak havoc in the Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY: As the first winter downpours hit the Gaza Strip, many streets were flooded, completely halting vehicular and people traffic.

Numerous videos and photos shared on social media showed flooding in Al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, and cars almost completely submerged in water.

Citizens have expressed anger over the inability of local authorities to deal with the rainfall.

“This is our situation with the first rain falling on Gaza,” a teacher at an UNRWA-affiliated school said in a video posted on social media, showing the flooded schoolyard which prevented students to leave their classrooms.

The students appeared in the video as they peered through the windows of their classrooms.

The Gaza Strip has suffered from worn-out infrastructure for years. Authorities blame the situation on successive Israeli sieges and bombardments during various escalations, in addition to a lack of funding.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in mid-2007, Israel has imposed a severe economic blockade, which has affected various aspects of life in the area. The enclave has since endured four wars and multiple escalations.

Yahya Al-Sarraj, Mayor of Gaza City, said: “The infrastructure in Gaza is old and dilapidated. The siege and wars in Gaza are compounding the consequences and effects of the storms. We work hard to fix what can be fixed with our limited capabilities.

Marwan Al-Ghoul, a member of the Gaza City municipal council, announced on Facebook his resignation in response to events during the rains.

Palestinians complained about the municipality’s management of infrastructure and expressed frustration at the disproportionate impact of the small storm.

Bakr Abu Ryala, 44, who had to drain rainwater from his house in Al-Shati refugee camp, told Arab News: “Every year we face the same problem, and every year , the municipality promises us that it will work to change this reality, but no one cares.

He added: “It rained for about an hour, and while we were in our house the water came in. How will that be with the coming winter days?”

Ahmed Al-Naqah, a Gaza Civil Defense spokesman, said: “Our teams are working to pump water from some houses and buildings in various areas, and the work is concentrated in the Al refugee camp. -Shati.

Hiba Mahmoud, 35, told Arab News: “I used to love the winter season when my family would gather indoors, share food and have fun, but all that has disappeared. We are now busy covering the house with plastic and cursing the winter and the rain.

While the municipality blames the problem on a lack of resources, Gazans are skeptical of the reasoning behind their suffering.

Mazen Al-Najjar, mayor of the city of Jabalia, told Al-Aqsa radio: “Teams in the municipality are working to solve the problems that have arisen with the rains in order to prevent them from recurring in the next days.

The Gaza Strip also suffers from a lack of reliable electricity. People only get 40% of the electricity needed during the day due to the inability of the city’s power station to operate at full capacity due to lack of fuel.

“With the arrival of each winter, infrastructure problems begin to appear, including rainwater flooding and massive power cuts. We currently have six hours of electricity a day,” Jameel Daban, 29, told Arab News as he stood outside his grocery store in Gaza City.

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