Two Palestinian babies freeze to death in Gaza storm

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Saturday, January 10, 2015

Two Palestinian babies have died due to cold weather in the Gaza Strip, an official said Saturday, as winter storms lashed the region.

A two-month-old girl from the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis died on Friday of "a pulmonary obstruction caused by the cold," health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

A one-month-old boy, also from Khan Yunis, died on Saturday, he said without giving further details.

Gaza's civil defense service said that dozens of homes in the coastal territory, already ravaged by the Israeli summer assault on the Palestinian enclave, were flooded in the brutal storms that brought freezing rain and gale-force winds.

Raed al-Dahshan, head of Gaza's civil defense, said his staff were facing "a difficult situation which was compounded by a lack of infrastructure" to help those suffering from the storm.

Gaza is also prone to severe flooding, exacerbated by a chronic lack of fuel that limits how much water can be pumped out of flood-stricken areas. The fuel shortages are a result of the eight-year Israeli blockade, which limits the import of other kinds of machinery related to pumping and sewage management that could help Gazans combat the floods. The most recent war has exacerbated the crisis.

Gazans are now living by candlelight and wood fire because of electricity shortages, and rely on sandbags to stop their ruined homes from flooding. Some Gazans have sought shelter in the Sheikh Shaaban cemetery outside Gaza City, living in makeshift hut and tents.

Worst hit was the southern town of Rafah, on the Egyptian border.

"After heavy rainfall houses were flooded to a depth of one meter (and) in places one and a half meters," a civil defense spokesman said, adding that occupants were evacuated to schools.

The service rescued some stranded people using small fishing boats, an AFP photographer reported.

The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency throughout the Palestinian Territories when the storm hit on Wednesday.

More than 96,000 Gaza homes were destroyed or damaged during last year's 51-day conflict and UN welfare officials say that 17,000 displaced people are still living in schools.

Moreover, the UN said as many as 1,500 children have been orphaned by Israeli attacks that killed their parents, while 6,000 children will have a parent with a lifelong disability.

The majority of Gaza’s 110,000 homeless people are children.

Gaza's sole power station, which was damaged during the war, is struggling with a severe lack of fuel and is only able to supply the enclave with six hours of power per day.

The storms have also struck other countries in the region with three Syrian refugees – including a baby – dying of cold in Lebanon.

Sources also told Al-Akhbar that a one-week-old was found dead in a Ersal refugee camp. The report has yet to be confirmed by officials.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


As an Israeli I feel shame for what myt counrty have donre in Gaza.

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