Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Rain floods exacerbate life for embattled Gaza residents


Moataz Sukkar no longer runs to his home's balcony in the Gaza Strip to welcome the year's first autumn rain.

The Palestinian young man had to carry out an urgent chore after rainwater spread through the floor of his house: fix the fragile spread of nylon sheets and cloth rags he had installed to cover the roof after it was blown off by Israeli warplanes during the latter's recently-ended devastating offensive on the coastal enclave.

"This is exactly what we have feared; that the rain season will begin before the reconstruction process [for the strip] does," Sukkar, 23, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday. "This morning the rain ruined our only option for covering up the roof."

In Gaza City's eastern Shujaya district, which had been heavily targeted by Israeli bombardments, Mohamed al-Moghni screams at his children to stay away from the streets surrounding their partially-destroyed home after they were flooded with rainwater.

"We were flooded with rain inside our damaged house because I haven't been able to repair it," he said as he attempted to get rid of the water inside his house using a number of buckets.

Already underdeveloped as a result of a years-long Israeli siege as well as two past wars in the recent past, the Gaza Strip's infrastructure was substantially damaged during Israel's latest offensive, which spanned 51 days of deadly bombardments between July and August.

Much of the embattled territory's sewage system and road networks, as well as water wells, have been destroyed during the bombings, leaving large pools of rainwater mixed with sewage all over Gaza as wet weather threatens to exacerbate the strip's post-war affliction.

Over 2,160 Palestinians were killed and over 11,000 injured during Israel's latest offensive, in addition to an estimated $5 billion in economic losses, according to the Palestinian government.

"Unfortunately, the rain in the Gaza Strip now brings more pain," said Marwa Hassanein, 54. more

How Israel is turning Gaza into a super-max prison


From Mondoweiss - It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age according to the explicit goals of an Israeli military doctrine known as “Dahiya”, has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting.

According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help.

Roads, schools and the electricity plant to power water and sewerage systems are in ruins. The cold and wet of winter are approaching. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza.

Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans?

The reason for the hold-up is, as ever, Israel’s “security needs”. Gaza can be rebuilt but only to the precise specifications laid down by Israeli officials.

We have been here before. Twelve years ago, Israeli bulldozers rolled into Jenin camp in the West Bank in the midst of the second intifada. Israel had just lost its largest number of soldiers in a single battle as the army struggled through a warren of narrow alleys. In scenes that shocked the world, Israel turned hundreds of homes to rubble.

With residents living in tents, Israel insisted on the terms of Jenin camp’s rehabilitation. The alleys that assisted the Palestinian resistance in its ambushes had to go. In their place, streets were built wide enough for Israeli tanks to patrol.

In short, both the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs and their right in international law to resist their oppressor were sacrificed to satisfy Israel’s desire to make the enforcement of its occupation more efficient. more

Egypt to create buffer zone along Gaza border


CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities are set to create a buffer zone along the shared border with Gaza following an attack that killed 30 soldiers on Saturday.

Egyptian military sources told Ma'an that all houses and farmland 500 meters deep along the 13-kilometer (eight-mile) border will be evacuated, with the exception of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.

A 20-meter wide and deep channel will also be constructed along the Gaza border, the sources added.

The decision was taken by the Egyptian Defense Council and all work will likely be completed by the end of 2014.

Following a survey with residents along the border, house owners will receive compensation in return for leaving their homes, with some 200 families having already accepted the financial package to leave.

Around 680 more families live along the border. more

Jordan requests UN meeting over Israeli settlements


Jordan requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Israeli plans to build more illegal Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, diplomats said.

The request followed a letter from Palestinian representative to the United Nations Riyadh Mansour calling for a urgent meeting to "address this crisis situation in occupied East Jerusalem."

Jordan, a Security Council member, put forward the request late Monday and was awaiting a response from Argentina, which chairs the 15-member council, on setting a date.

Diplomats told AFP the meeting was unlikely to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Israel pledged to build more than 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem on Monday, angering Palestinians who warned it could trigger an "explosion" of violence.

In his letter, the Palestinian representative called on the council to demand that Israel rescind its plan immediately and "commit to the path of peace that it has clearly and recklessly abandoned." more