Israel transfers aid supplies to Gaza due to harsh weather conditions

Gas, water pumps provided to Strip in response to UN's appeal to Coordinator of Activities in the Territories.

Palestinian civil defense evacuate kids in Gaza 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Palestinian civil defense evacuate kids in Gaza 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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 region.
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 its website.
A joint Israeli-Palestinian situation room was also opened to help distressed civilians in the West Bank with transportation and electricity concerns.
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 roads.
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.
Gaza’s 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.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called for fuel to be allowed to enter Gaza.
“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 report.