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Heavy rain inundates homes in Gaza Strip, forces schools to shut down

Feb. 16, 2017 1:34 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 16, 2017 7:16 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Damage caused by heavy rain forced all schools in the besieged Gaza Strip to close on Thursday, local sources said.

The head of emergency committee of Gaza City, Saad al-Din al-Atbash, said that crews were working non-stop to deal with the consequences of the inclement weather.

The Ministry of Education in Gaza decided to close all schools due to the persistent bad weather, while some universities suspended classes.

Gaza civil defense spokesman Muhammad al-Maydana told Ma’an that ten homes were flooded in the northern Gaza Strip neighborhood of Saftawi and had to be evacuated, adding that no one was injured.

The Ministry of Agriculture, meanwhile, said that Gaza had witnessed a 65 percent occurrence of rainfall in the past 24 days. Ministry official Shafiq al-Arawi said that the rain would benefit plants and soil and replenish the aquifer water supplies in the Gaza Strip.

The flooding came as Gaza’s power company said on Thursday that Egyptian lines feeding the blockaded coastal enclave with 20 megawatts of electricity had been damaged.

Gaza has been hit by severe flooding in the past, exacerbating the dire situation faced by Palestinians in the blockaded and war-torn coastal enclave, where thousands of Gazans have been unable to rebuild their homes after Israel's 2014 offensive and suffer from severe electricity and drinking water shortages.

A 2012 United Nations report warned that water from Gaza’s sole aquifer would become completely undrinkable by the end of 2016, with damages becoming irreversible by 2020.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a report in January outlining the dire humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip and reiterating its support for lifting the decade-long siege of the territory, which it called “collective punishment” imposed on Palestinians in contravention of international law.

Ending the Israeli blockade would be the only way to ensure Palestinians in Gaza have access to “basic and inalienable human rights,” the report concluded.
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