GAZA CITY: As the first winter showers lash the Gaza Strip, many streets have flooded, bringing vehicular traffic and the movement of people to a complete halt.
Numerous videos and photos shared on social media showed flooding in Al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, and cars almost completely submerged in water.
Citizens expressed anger over the inability of local authorities to deal with the rainfall.
“This is our situation with the first rain falling on Gaza,” a teacher at a school affiliated with UNRWA said in a video circulated on social media, showing the flooded schoolyard that left students unable to leave their classrooms.
The students appeared in the video as they looked through the windows of their classrooms.
The Gaza Strip has suffered from worn-out infrastructure for years. Authorities blame the situation on successive Israeli sieges and bombardments during various rounds of escalation, in addition to a lack of funding.
Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in mid-2007, Israel has imposed a severe economic blockade, which has affected various aspects of life in the area. The enclave has since suffered four wars and multiple rounds of escalation.
Yahya Al-Sarraj, mayor of Gaza City, said: “The infrastructure in Gaza is old and dilapidated. The siege and wars on Gaza are exacerbating the consequences and effects of storms. We are working hard to fix what can be fixed with our limited capabilities.”
Marwan Al-Ghoul, a member of the Gaza City Municipal Council, announced on Facebook his resignation in response to events during the rainfall.
Palestinians complained about the handling of infrastructure by the municipality and expressed their frustration over the disproportionate impact of the small storm.
Bakr Abu Ryala, 44, who had to remove rainwater from his home in Al-Shati refugee camp, told Arab News: “Every year we face the same problem, and every year the municipality promises us that it will work to change this reality, but no one cares.”
He added: “It rained for about an hour, and while we were in our house, the water came in. How will it be with the coming days of winter?”
Ahmed Al-Naqah, a spokesman for Gaza civil defense, said: “Our crews are working to pump the water out of some houses and buildings in various areas, and the work is concentrated in Al-Shati refugee camp.”
Hiba Mahmoud, 35, told Arab News: “I used to love the winter season when my family would gather indoors and share food and have fun, but all of this is gone. We are busy now covering the house in plastic and cursing the winter and the rain.”
While the municipality attributes the problem to a lack of resources, Gaza residents are sceptical of the reasoning behind their suffering.
Mazen Al-Najjar, mayor of Jabalia city, told Al-Aqsa radio: “The municipality’s crews are working to address the problems that have arisen with the rainfall to prevent their recurrence in the coming days.”
The Gaza Strip also suffers from a lack of reliable electricity. People receive just 40 percent of required power during the day as a result of the city power plant’s inability to operate at full capacity due to a lack of fuel.
“With the advent of each winter, infrastructure problems begin to appear, including rainwater flooding and massive power cuts. We are currently getting six hours of electricity daily,” Jameel Daban, 29, told Arab News while standing outside his grocery shop in Gaza City.