Israel on Friday decided to open the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza to transfer
aid supplies to the coastal enclave amid harsh weather conditions hitting the
After a UN request to Maj.- Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of
government activities in the territories (COGAT), Israel implemented the
transfer of gas for heating and water pumps to the Strip facing heavy flood from
severe winter storms.
“Israel will do everything that is necessary to
assist the civilian populations in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria, with an
emphasis on providing electricity to the power plant in Gaza,” the army said on
A joint Israeli-Palestinian situation room was also opened
to help distressed civilians in the West Bank with transportation and
More than 5,000 people have been evacuated from
flood-damaged homes in northern Gaza and at least one person killed in what the
UN called “a disaster area.”
The flooding, caused by four days of
torrential rain, was so severe that many homes could only be accessed by rowing
boat with water two meter deep in some places.
“Large swaths of northern
Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see,” the United
Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) that administers refugee camps in the
Palestinian territory, said in a statement on Saturday.
Many people were
trapped inside homes in Gaza inundated by rising waters. A 22-yearold
Palestinian man died from smoke inhalation on Saturday after lighting a fire to
warm his home, a government spokesman said.
The Gaza Health Ministry said
100 other people had been hurt as flood waters damaged poorly built homes in the
coastal territory. Among those injured were people who had been hit by objects
falling from inundated buildings or had been in car accidents on flooded
Chris Gunness, an UNRWA spokesman, said areas near a refugee camp
in northern Gaza “have become a massive lake with two-meter-high waters
engulfing homes and stranding thousands.” Thousands of agency workers were
evacuating stranded Palestinians to UN shelters, Gunness said.
Hamas government said 5,246 people in all had been evacuated to schools and
other centers used as temporary shelters in the past four days. The government
said all its resources and manpower were available to aid rescue operations,
including its armed wing usually charged with fighting Israel.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called for fuel to be allowed to enter
“Gaza survived two wars [against Israel] and it will walk out of
this,” he said wearing a heavy coat and the yellow jumper of emergency workers
as he toured the affected areas overnight.
Reuters contributed to this