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Heat wave brings added suffering to displaced Gazans

Aug. 3, 2015 3:05 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 3, 2015 8:03 P.M.)
A Palestinian works on a construction site to rebuild houses on July 22, 2015 in Gaza City's eastern suburb of Al-Shejaiya. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A heat wave sweeping across the occupied Palestinian territories has brought further suffering to Gazan residents whose homes were destroyed during last summer's deadly Gaza war.

"All the citizens who live in caravans are in very dire and disastrous living conditions," said 60-year-old Abu Ahmad, who lives in a mobile home in the Khuzaa neighborhood of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. "Death is better than our life."

Abu Ahmad said that since the war ended a year ago, his children had left him to live with their grandfather as conditions inside the mobile homes were too poor.

"We are humans, not animals, and we can't live in these caravans," he said.

The 60-year-old urged the Palestinian authorities to help improve living conditions for displaced Gazans, saying: "We are not asking for the unattainable, and we don't want them to put us in paradise."

"All we are asking for is to speed up reconstruction of our houses so we can get rid of this suffering."

Gazans have sought to house their families in whatever way they can following last year's devastating war, in which Israeli forces destroyed or severely damaged some 18,000 homes.

At the height of the conflict, the third in six years, the United Nations had transformed 91 of its schools in the Gaza Strip into shelters to house some 300,000 displaced. Short of money, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees recently closed the last shelter.

Some of the displaced have been able to return home, but more than 100,000 remain homeless -- more than five percent of the Strip's 1.8 million population.

It is a major part of the misery facing Gazans a year after the war, which killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, and 73 people on the Israeli side.

Muhammad al-Najjar, 30, told Ma'an that he and his family have been housed in steel houses that are "inappropriate for residence."

He said: "These houses symbolize humiliation and disgrace to the whole Palestinian people because they are definitely inappropriate for humans. The heat of the sun has burnt us and caused our children skin diseases."

Al-Najjar’s mother described the mobile home an "incubator" during the summer.

"We are 30 family members living in a 30-square-meter caravan which isn’t appropriate for humans in the first place," she said.

Temperatures peaked on Sunday at nearly 40 degrees Celsius, with a humidity of more than 70 percent creating sweltering conditions in the coastal enclave.

The commissioner general of UN relief agency UNRWA, Pierre Krahenbuhl, warned last month that the root causes of last year's war remain unaddressed.

"The despair, destitution and denial of dignity resulting from last year’s war and from the blockade are a fact of life for ordinary people in Gaza," he said.

"In an increasingly unstable Middle East, neglecting the needs and rights of the people of Gaza is a risk the world should not be taking."
Comments
Tom Dallian / Canada
''Heat wave brings added suffering to displaced Gazans'', so let them open a window.
03/08/2015 19:59
Outlier / USA
Again, self-inflicted - the result of Hamas rejecting and/or breaking various ceasefires. For Gazans' sake, Hamas need to be smarter next time.
03/08/2015 20:36
Luzer / USA
The Israelies did not randomly destroy your homes as you are suggesting. Hamas has fired rockets and machine guns from behind your homes basically using your homes as a shield for cover.You should have asked Hams to leave but instead now you're homeless thanks to Hamas.
04/08/2015 08:03
spb / usa
but but but the gazans have their victory and dignity unlike the defeated Israelis
04/08/2015 12:29
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