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In video: Gaza streets still flooded a week after storm

Dec. 23, 2013 5:52 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 25, 2013 12:58 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A video shot on the streets of Gaza City shows extensive flooding more than a week after the region was hit by a massive storm.

Taken on December 21, the video from the Institute for Middle East Understanding's Jehad Saftawi shows streets, cars, and homes still completely flooded, revealing the devastation the Gaza Strip suffered in the wake of winter storm Alexa in mid-December.

The footage is shot from a camera placed on a raft as the driver navigates the streets of the al-Nafaq neighborhood in Gaza City.

Due to widespread fuel and electricity shortages, disaster response crews have been unable to pump water out of the many flooded areas across the Gaza Strip.

Additionally, a number of sewage pumps at plants across the Gaza Strip had stopped working due to lack of fuel prior to the storm, causing sewage to spill into the streets.

As a result, the water currently flooding many parts of Gaza is a mixture of cold water and sewage.

Flooding caused by the historic winter storm displaced at least 10,000 people in Gaza, while record low temperatures and electricity availability that fell to two hours a day caused great hardship for local residents.

On December 14, UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said in a statement, "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."

On December 15, General Director of military medical services in Gaza Atef al-Kahlout warned, "We are on the verge of a complete breakdown in the health sector, services, and civil institutes," pointing to the constant exposure to sewage water in large swathes of the region.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006. The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In 2011 and 2012, however, the situation improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.

Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Hamas authorities to afford.
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