Gaza, ALRAY – Mohammed Hasna, the representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference said that the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, IHH, intends to send Mavi Marmara 2 to the Gaza Strip in a new attempt to break Gaza blockade.
Hasna said that the foundations’ decision came in a special session on Gaza during a conference held by the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Istanbul.
Several Islamic organizations provided donations to help the affected Palestinians in the Gaza Strip due to the recent winter storm.
The World Assembly of Muslim Youth(WAMY) announced its donation with one million dollars to the Gaza Strip, and Qatar Charity donated with also one million dollars.
Hasna mentioned on his facebook that many countries and organizations have donated with different sum of money to the Gaza Strip.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said that large regions of the Gaza Strip are a “disaster area” and called on the world community to lift the Israeli blockade in order to allow recovery efforts to proceed, in a statement sent to Ma’an.
“Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see. Areas around Jabalia have become a massive lake with two meter high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands,” the statement read.
“Four thousand UNRWA workers are battling the floods and have evacuated hundreds of families to UNRWA facilities. Our sanitation, manintenance workers, social workers and medical staff have been working through the night and round the clock to assist the most vulnerable, the old, the sick, children and women,” the statement continued.
“We have distributed five thousand of litres of fuel to local pumping stations, but the situation is dire and with the flood waters rising, the risk of water borne disease can only increase. This is a terrible situation which can only get worse before it gets better,” it added, referring to major fuel shortages across the Gaza Strip that have dramatically worsened in the last few months.
Gunness also highlighted the need for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip in order to allow the region recover from the current crisis.
“When all this is over, the world community needs to bring effective pressure to end the blockade of Gaza,” he said.
“Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster. But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this,” the statement continued.
“And of course it is the most vulnerable, the women and children, the elderly who wil pay the highest price of failure to end the blockade.”
The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.
Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.
The Gaza Strip has been without a functioning power plant since the beginning of November, when the plant ran out of diesel fuel as a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.
The plant itself was only reopened last year after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the 2006 assault on the Strip. The power plant generates around 30 percent of the Gaza Strip’s electricity supply, while the rest comes from Israel and Egypt.
Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.
In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.
Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Gaza Strip authorities to afford.
As the situation in Gaza deteriorates due to snow and freezing temperatures on top of electricity cuts, the Minister of Health Dr Mufiz al-Makhalalati has declared a state of emergency, and called on all his personnel to assist the Civil Defence crews and municipalities in alleviating the distress.
Already 146 households accounting for 734 people have been forced to take emergency shelter in nearby schools and police stations, while 500 families, or more than 3200 people, have received assistance such as food, clothing and blankets.
The situation is dire and will get worse, with the current temperature at 3 degrees Celsius, and more bad weather predicted. The young and the old are particularly vulnerable, and desperately need electricity for warmth, and medications.
International governments and all people of good conscience must act quickly to ensure that Gaza’s suffering ends now, by forcing an end to the Israeli siege thus letting in the fuel required to run the power plants, essential medicines and medical supplies, and the equipment needed to provide emergency civil defence services – not only for this particular crisis, but on a permanent basis.
Snow is falling in Gaza, adding another layer of misery to the freezing and flooded conditions being experienced by its besieged population. Most homes have been without electricity for 24 of the last 36 hours, many streets are under water, and schools have been closed for the last two days.
In a press release on Thursday, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri warned of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster due to the siege-induced power crisis and the atrocious weather conditions, describing the situation as “collective punishment.”
Some 30 people have been injured in car accidents and building collapses since the onset of the current bad weather bringing flooding of roads and houses in its wake.
Yousef al-Zahar, Director General of Civil Defense, said that civil defense crews are doing what they can, but they are hampered by the lack of fuel due to the siege, and cannot pump flood-waters.
Interior Minister Fathi Hammad on Wednesday noted the lack of equipment necessary for civil defence activities, stressing the need for the international community to put pressure on Israel to allow the entry of heavy equipment and tools in order to enable the disaster emergency committees to do their work.
His calls so far seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
The simple solution to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza – lifting of the illegal Israeli siege, and opening the Rafah border for the legitimate passage of people and goods – is in the hands of the international community – along with the lives of all Gazans freezing in the dark tonight with no hope of real help reaching them.
Gaza, ALRAY – Rescue teams in the besieged Gaza Strip have been trying to help residents in need as a cold front has left the coastal enclave paralyzed.
Civil defense and medical crews have declared a state of high alert in Gaza as it has been hit with a wave of cold weather, heavy rains, and gusty winds.
Rescue teams are struggling to help Gazans despite a serious lack of necessary equipment and aid.
“We have a crisis here because our neighbor, our flesh and blood, the Egyptians, are not helping us in these hard times,” said Civil Defense Chief Yusuf al-Zahar, also slamming the Israeli blockade for the harsh situation.
“This cold front is very dangerous and we call on the international community to lend a helping hand.”
Severe weather temperatures and flooded streets have caused schools, universities, and roads to remain closed. Fallen power lines and trees have also left roads blocked off.
This comes days after school children in Gaza staged a rally in front of the house of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in protest against the ongoing power crisis in the coastal enclave.
For over a month, Gazans have been living on an average of six hours of electricity per day after its sole power generating plant was forced to close down as a result of fuel shortage.
The protesters demanded an immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade. They also called on Egypt to provide Gaza with electricity.
Fuel and electricity shortages in Gaza have also worsened after the Egyptian government’s closure of Gaza tunnels. The tunnels were the only lifeline for Palestinians living under the Israeli siege.
Press TV contributed