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The girl was killed and her family were wounded in an air strike on a refugee camp in Gaza [Reuters]
|A three-year-old Palestinian girl was killed and at least six other people wounded in a series of Israeli air and tank strikes on the Gaza Strip, medical sources said.Medics named the girl as Hala Abu Sabikha from the central Gaza Strip, noting “three other members of her family were wounded” on Tuesday.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said six people had been wounded in a series of strikes, which came in response to the shooting to death earlier of an Israeli repairing the security fence separating Gaza from Israel.
The Hamas interior ministry said Abu Sabikha and her family were injured in an air strike on a refugee camp in central Gaza.
It also said a person was moderately wounded in a tank shelling near the Karni crossing in northern Gaza and that there were two other air strikes on militant positions in northern Gaza, where no casualties were reported.
The Israeli army said aircraft, tanks and infantry “targeted terror sites in the Gaza Strip” in retaliation for the shooting of the Israeli.
“The sites targeted were a weapon-manufacturing facility and a terror infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, a terror site and another terror infrastructure in the central Gaza Strip and a concealed rocket launcher in the northern Gaza Strip,” an army statement said.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip— Flooding from heavy rains forced some 40,000 Gaza Strip residents from their homes, including thousands who were taken to safety in boats and military trucks, officials said Saturday.
The downpour that began late Wednesday was part of a storm that covered parts of Israel and the West Bank with snow, paralyzed Jerusalem and left thousands in Israel without power. Israeli TV stations showed footage of armored personnel carriers rescuing motorists and said it was the most severe snow storm in decades.
Even Gaza with its milder coastal climate saw some snow, though lower-lying areas were mainly hit by flooding.
Rescue efforts were hampered by fuel shortages and rolling power cuts that have become more severe in recent months, since Egypt tightened a border blockade of the territory, ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas since 2007.
Israel has also restricted access to Gaza since the Hamas takeover, though it sent diesel fuel for heating and four water pumps during the weekend storm.
Once the storm is over, “the world community needs to bring effective pressure to end the blockade of Gaza,” said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the main U.N aid agency in the territory. Gaza residents “must be freed from these man-made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this,” he added.
In the low-lying areas of Gaza, water has been rising since heavy rains began late Wednesday, flooding streets and homes.
One of the hardest hit areas was Nafak Street in Gaza City’s Sheik Radwan neighborhood, close to a rainwater reservoir.
Said Halawa, an area resident, said the reservoir overflowed Wednesday evening. By Thursday, water had poured into the ground floor of his two-story home where he and he and 41 other members of his extended family live, Halawa said.
The family called for help and was evacuated by boat from the upper floor. Halawa said he and his family were taken to a makeshift shelter in a neighborhood school. “We got some assistance, some blankets and some food, but I didn’t save any of my belongings,” said the 52-year-old taxi driver.
At another neighbor school, 30 families found shelter. Children slept on desks and on mattresses on the floor. Some of those at the shelter huddled around wood fires in open-air walkways outside the classrooms to stay warm.
In all, the flooding forced about 40,000 people from their homes, including more than 5,200 who were taken to safety in boats, military trucks or heavy construction vehicles, government officials said.
Another hard-hit area was the refugee camp of Jebaliya in northern Gaza. The local Al Aqsa TV station, run by Hamas, showed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, both of Hamas, touring Jebaliya in a boat.
Housing Minister Yousef Jhariz, who headed the government’s crisis team, said the storm caused at least $64 million in damages. One man died from smoke inhalation after burning coal for warmth in his house, health officials said.
By Saturday afternoon, teams were fixing downed power lines and piled up sandbags in some areas to protect homes from flooding.
The storm hit Gaza at a time when it is buckling under the tightened border closure by Egypt. Over the summer, Egypt’s military intensified its blockade after ousting Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, a Hamas ally.
Jerusalem and several West Bank towns, meanwhile, were crippled by snow for a third day Saturday. About 28,000 homes in Israel were still without electricity on Saturday, officials said.
Soldiers moved from house to house in some areas of Jerusalem to check on residents. Highways in and out of Jerusalem remained closed to private cars and residents were advised to stay off the roads.
The only way out of Jerusalem on Saturday was by train.
Sietvanit Tzirnishki had boarded the train headed from Jerusalem to snow-free Tel Aviv, Israel’s coastal metropolis.
“I’ve been stuck here in Jerusalem for two days at my sister’s apartment that did not have electricity,” she said. “We have been going from one apartment to the other to get some heat and some food and I’m glad to get back to Tel Aviv now.”
Schools in Jerusalem and the West Bank were to remain closed Sunday, the start of the work week in the region.
The Gaza plant supplies about a third of the territory’s electricity needs [Al Jazeera]
|A shortage of fuel has halted the production of electricity across the Gaza Strip, the Energy Authority in the Palestinian enclave said.
“The power plant has been shut down due to fuel shortage. The stock of fuel is zero. All parts of life in Gaza will be affected.” Fathi el-Sheikh Khalil, the authority’s deputy chairman, told Al Jazeera.
The electricity supply had been cut off across most of the territory on Friday morning.
Khalil blamed the power outage on Israel’s destruction of tunnels used for bringing fuel to Gaza and accused the Western-backed Palestinian Authority of charging Hamas too much for its fuel.
“Less than 50 percent of the needs of the Gaza Strip are currently covered by electricity from Israel [and] we can no longer get Egyptian fuel due to the destruction of tunnels from Egypt,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority pledged last week to deliver fuel to Gaza without a usual tax, allowing the Hamas government to buy 400,000 litres of fuel a day.
But the Authority cancelled its offer of a tax exemption, Khalil said in a statement, making it difficult for the Gaza authorities to afford the fuel.
The Gaza plant supplies about a third of the territory’s electricity needs.
In addition to the power plant, which produces up to 65 megawatts, Israel feeds the strip with 120 megawatts and Egypt pours in 27 megawatts.
Gaza residents have endured around eight hours of daily blackouts in recent years because of fuel shortages. The Gaza Energy Authority said the power plant’s closure means Palestinians could suffer 12 hours of daily blackouts.
“The plant will remain shut until fuel supplies resume from Egypt through the tunnels or the Rafah border crossing, or from Israel if the Palestinian Authority agrees not to impose the heavy taxes,” said Khalil.
In September, the Gaza Energy Authority warned of an impending shortage of fuel and called on Egypt to resume deliveries to the territory.
Relations between Cairo and Hamas have deteriorated since the Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July.
An Israeli raid to destroy a Gaza tunnel ignited clashes late Thursday in which tank fire killed four Hamas commanders and five Israeli soldiers were wounded, officials from both sides said.
- Israeli Gaza strike kills three Palestinian militants – Reuters UK (uk.reuters.com)
- 4 Hamas members killed in Israeli Gaza raid (worldbulletin.net)
- Power outage across Gaza as fuel runs out: Hamas (dailystar.com.lb)
- Israel hits back after Gaza strip rockets (updatednews.ca)
- West Bank and the Gaza Strip to face worsening food insecurity (spyghana.com)
- Lieberman after rockets: ‘Israel has no choice but to consider conquering Gaza’ (haaretz.com)
- Palestine decries Israel’s new outposts plan – Middle East – Al Jazeera English (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
- Army Bombards Several Areas In Gaza (nsnbc.me)