The UN’s Palestine refugee agency UNRWA on Thursday evening declared a state of emergency in Gaza City amid massive rains that have shut down normal life in parts of the besieged coastal enclave’s largest city.
Hundreds of residents in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City had also been evacuated due to the rise of a “storm water lagoon” that had flooded many homes in the area.
“The flooding is exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza caused by blockade and the unprecedented destruction from the latest Israeli offensive,” the UN agency said in a post on its Facebook.
The agency, which is already massively stretched due to the summer’s conflict, said that it was “providing emergency fuel to supply back-up generators for pumping stations, portable pumps, municipalities, water, sanitation and health facilities.”
It is also preparing to provide shelter for those displaced the storm “should the need arise.”
UNRWA said on Thursday that it had provided 60,000 liters of emergency fuel to pumping stations in Gaza in response to the floods.
The Israeli siege has compounded the difficulties faced by Palestinians in Gaza this year, as tens of thousands displaced by Israeli bombing over summer have been unable to rebuild.
Israel has largely maintained its restriction on imports of concrete and other rebuilding materials, slowing reconstruction.
Thursday marks the fourth straight day of unusually heavy rain across the region, causing temperatures to dip across Palestine.
Despite a slew of recent projects intended to improve urban infrastructure across the region, the continuing flooding suggests these have not borne fruit.
The general manager for projects in the Ministry of Local Government Muhyi al-Din al-Areda told Ma’an there had been negligence in the administration of projects responsible for constructing many streets where the problems were occurring.
Al-Areda added that the Ministries of Public Works and Local Government had allocated $3 million to develop municipalities and drainage.
Al-Areda said that the flooding had hit cities in the northern parts of the West Bank wmore severely than any other.
The worst hit has been Qalqiliya as it is surrounded on all sides by the Israeli separation wall, making water-pumping a complex and difficult task.
Rains are expected to end by Friday morning, with temperatures rising as well.