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Archive for December 16th, 2013

It is not fiction, It does not start with …Once upon a time in a land far away……….. It is 2013 in a country not far from you, A land set in the middle east, an oil rich region of the world. But, this story is not sensational enough to be worth telling, or hearing or reacting to. This is Gaza, Palestine.
The Western world is lit up for Christmas, Log fires are burning, Christmas candles are lit, The snowy scenes are reminiscent of Dickensian times as families gather around in celebration. Today in Gaza we are already 14 hours without electricity , perhaps we will be another 14. Our only lighting and heating are small candles in the centre of the room. Today we are in the middle of a ferocious storm, roads are flooded and impassable, but it is OK, as we have nowhere to go anyway. I am one of the lucky ones, My windows are leaking and letting in rain, but at least I have windows. I spent time this week with families whose walls are made of galvanised sheets pushed in to the sand, whose doors are flimsy curtains and whose roofs are made of tin and reeds, ( or at least they were before today but I am sure tomorrow there will be nothing left).
People will die tonight , of this I am positive. But, the pictures are not sensational enough to be broadcast. You wont see them! This is a slow genocide, a humanitarian disaster . This is the effects of an ongoing siege by Zionist Israel compounded by a complicit Egypt and witnessed and allowed by a heartless World. This is the persecution of a land .
The small hasaka’s of the fishermen are being beaten against the rocks on the Port tonight.. Sheets of tin used as roofs are flying off already freezing cold homes, there is no light, no heat, no hot water..and no end in sight…………. This can be stopped, But,regardless of whether or not the world reacts……….. Gaza will be here tomorrow and the next day and the next …………….

This was written 3 days ago in the midst of a disaster I thought could not get any worse, I was wrong. We have experienced electricity cuts lasting anything up to 35 hours at a time. The temperatures plummeted to 3 degrees as sleet, hail stones and torrential rain continued to fall.  Most homes in Gaza have no insulation and Families have no way to heat their homes. The wind was strong enough to destroy homes, boats , knock down walls , trees etc. Thunder and lightening persisted for four days non stop. Add to all of this, Gaza still has no fuel or electricity. No heat, no running or clean water, sewage still running down the streets.

The lack of fuel means the civil defence teams can not even reach many of the areas affected, Hasaka’s ( small boats) are transporting people around Gaza at the moment as many homes have had to be evacuated. Gaza’s civil defense force media spokesperson Muhammad Al-Midna added that the lack of electricity had exacerbated the difficulties faced by Gaza residents as it limited the ability of civil defense forces to pump water from flooded areas.

He highlighted that blackouts of over 12 consecutive hours and the lack of fuel to run generators during those blackouts had effectively crippled the ability of civil defense forces to respond for large periods of time. Government schools are being used to shelter the homeless.The Gaza Ministry of Information announced that the numbers of residents staying in shelters in the  has hit 5,ooo although OCHA are reporting 10,000 are evacutaed from their homes to either shelters or relatives homes .

A statement from UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness reads:

“Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see. Areas around Jabalia have become a massive lake with two meter high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands,” the statement read.

“Four thousand UNRWA workers are battling the floods and have evacuated hundreds of families to UNRWA facilities. Our sanitation, manintenance workers, social workers and medical staff have been working through the night and round the clock to assist the most vulnerable, the old, the sick, children and women,”

“We have distributed five thousand of litres of fuel to local pumping stations, but the situation is dire and with the flood waters rising, the risk of water borne disease can only increase. This is a terrible situation which can only get worse before it gets better,” it added, referring to major fuel shortages across the Gaza Strip that have dramatically worsened in the last few months.

“When all this is over, the world community needs to bring effective pressure to end the blockade of Gaza,”

“Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster. But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this,”

“And of course it is the most vulnerable, the women and children, the elderly who will pay the highest price of failure to end the blockade.”

There have been at least 96 injuries reported via medical response teams and hospital’s throughout the strip and two confirmed death’s reported. According to medical sources   Hamza al-Amour, 22, died Saturday of asphyxiation from fumes and smoke from a fire he was burning in his room to stay warm, and 90-year-old Mahmoud Farajallah,  died after his house was flooded.

We have just returned from a School where over 900 people are now seeking refuge due to their houses now being unlivable.

AND THEN THIS HAPPENED: Israel opens Dams to compound an already desperate situation:

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=656950

The Gaza government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory.

Committee chairman Yasser Shanti said in a press conference that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just to the east of the border with the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

He said that the move by Israeli authorities would flood areas in Moghraqa and other parts of Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, and he called upon residents of areas near the Gaza Valley to evacuate their homes in preparation for the anticipated flooding……

“Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster. But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this,”

In the spirit of Christmas or Humanity,We need your help. We are doing all we can but more help is badly needed. Please donate what you can via the paypal link  ( Donate page) on this blog so we can help with more blankets, food, shelter etc.

(Many) Pictures by Awni Farhat ( Shukran Awni)

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