March 1, 2024

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Heavy rains in Gaza cause floods and diseases for the besieged population

Heavy rains lashed the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, bringing mud, flooding and in some cases disease to thousands of displaced Palestinians living in makeshift tents in this corner of the besieged enclave.

“We did not get our winter clothes from Gaza City when we left more than a month ago,” Ramzi Muhammad, 31, told The Washington Post in a phone call. Muhammad lives in Rafah with his wife and three children. “The only thing we do at night is hug each other to warm up,” he said.

During its ground assault on Gaza, the IDF ordered residents to move south to Khan Yunis and Rafah to seek shelter. The war led to the deaths of at least 18,000 Palestinians and the injury of 50,000, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Khan Younis, once considered safe, is now the site of some of the fiercest fighting.

What is happening in Khan Yunis in Gaza as the Israeli attack heads south

Nearly 1.9 million people have been displaced in Gaza – or 90% of the Strip’s population, according to UN data. Many of them are now living in tents covered with whatever blankets or clothes they can find.

“Blankets are not available in the market for purchase,” Mohammed said. “but [even] “When it’s available, I can’t afford the price.”

Computer models simulated 10 to 35 millimeters (0.4 to 1.4 in) of rain falling on Gaza, as a low pressure area pulled moist air from the Mediterranean inland. Reports from Israel Meteorological Department It showed that about this amount fell along much of the Mediterranean coast. Ashkelon, an Israeli city north of the Gaza Strip, received 15.9 mm (0.6 inches).

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The low pressure area is now moving eastward, and the region is expected to witness seasonal dry weather in the coming days. Rainfall in Israel and Gaza is typical between November and March, which is generally considered the rainy season in the region.

The rain has exacerbated the problems plaguing an already struggling healthcare system. In addition to the spread of diseases and overcrowding, the United Nations on Wednesday described the situation as a “public health disaster.”

“Shelters have long exceeded their full capacity, with people queuing for hours just to get to a toilet – one toilet available for hundreds of people,” Lyn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Palestinian Territories, told the Council. He presses. “This only leads to a health crisis.”

Hastings said Israeli evacuation orders were putting relief operations at risk.

“Just trying to deliver food to people in Rafah is very difficult,” she added.

Mahmoud Aziz, 36 years old, is among those who fled south to Rafah on Israeli orders. He now resides in one building with about 70 people.

“Our whole family suffers from diarrhea that seems to be caused by the water we drink or the cold weather,” he said. “We leave the windows open because of the bombing; We are afraid of glass if there is a bombing.”

Jason Samino contributed to this report.