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Gaza Flooding Drives 40,000 From Their Homes » The Epoch Times
Gaza Flooding Drives 40,000 From Their Homes » The Epoch Times.
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.
US and Israel lose UNESCO voting rights – Americas – Al Jazeera English
US and Israel lose UNESCO voting rights – Americas – Al Jazeera English.
UNESCO has suspended the voting rights of the United States, two years after it stopped paying dues to the UN’s cultural arm in protest over its granting full membership to the Palestinians, according to a UNESCO source.
The US has not paid its dues to UNESCO due to the decision by world governments to make Palestine a UNESCO member in 2011. Israel suspended its dues at the same time and also lost voting rights on Friday.
Under UNESCO rules, the US had until Friday morning to resume funding or explain itself, or it automatically loses its vote. A UNESCO official, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the issue, said nothing was received from either the US or Israel.
“Nothing was received from the United States,” the source said. Two separate diplomatic sources also confirmed the deadline had been missed.
The US decision of not paying UNESCO was blamed on US laws that prohibit funding to any United Nations agency that implies recognition of Palestinian demands for their own state.
There was no immediate comment at the office of the US envoy to the UN agency.
|I regret to say that I’m seeing, in these last two years … a declining American influence and American involvement.
Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO
The withdrawal of US funding, which to date amounts to about $240m or some 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget, has plunged the organisation into a financial crisis, forcing it to cut programmes and slash spending.
“I regret to say that I’m seeing, in these last two years … a declining American influence and American involvement,” Bokova told The Associated Press.
Director General for UNESCO, Irina Bokova, lamented the changes that are not only seeing America silenced within her organisation but also bringing UNESCO financially to its knees.
“I can’t imagine how we could disengage with the United States at UNESCO. We are so intertwined with our message. What I regret is that this decision became so divisive and triggered this suspension of the funding,” she added.
Bokova said she accepts political reality and would find ways for UNESCO to continue its work, despite a 2014 budget that’s down by an estimated $150 million.
Some fear that a weaker US presence will lead to growing anti-Israeli sentiment within UNESCO, where Arab-led criticism of Israel for territorial reasons has long been an issue.
“We won’t be able to have the same clout,” said Phyllis Magrab, the Washington-based US National Commissioner for UNESCO. “In effect, we (now won’t) have a full tool box. We’re missing our hammer.”
Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, told The Associated Press that his country supported the US decision, “objecting to the politicisation of UNESCO, or any international organisation, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine.”
Elias Sanbar, Palestinian Ambassador to UNESCO told Al Jazeera: “We need them (the United States) to be active. By taking this decision, first of all, they have created big problems for UNESCO, but they have also lost part of their role and we need their role.”
UNESCO designates World Heritage sites, promotes global education and supports press freedom among other tasks.
The loss of voting rights for the key UNESCO member comes as Washington tries to keep US-brokered peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians afloat.
Both parties have signaled the lack of progress in the talks, revived in July after a three-year hiatus but recently stymied over Israeli plans to continue building Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Israel that a third Palestinian uprising is at stake if the talks fail. Kerry has set a nine-month schedule for a peace deal.
The Palestinians have so far failed in their bid to become a full member of the UN, but their UNESCO membership is seen as a potential first step towards UN recognition of statehood.
The US has characterised UNESCO’s move as a misguided attempt to bypass the two-decade old peace process. Washington says only a resumption of peace talks ending in a treaty with Israel can result in Palestinian statehood.
Arafat poisoning claim backed by journal – Europe – Al Jazeera English
Arafat poisoning claim backed by journal – Europe – Al Jazeera English. (FULL ARTICLE)
One of the world’s leading medical journals has supported the possibility that Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210.
The British The Lancet journal has published a peer review of last year’s research by Swiss scientists on Arafat’s personal effects.
It endorsed their work, which found high levels of the highly radioactive element in blood, urine, and saliva stains on the Palestinian leader’s clothes and toothbrush.
The work of the experts at Lausanne University, Switzerland, was triggered by an Al Jazeera investigation, and also led to Arafat’s body being exhumed in November 2012 for further testing.
In October 2004, Arafat fell ill, suffering from a number of symptoms, including nausea and abdominal pain.
Within a few short weeks, his health became significantly worse, and he was transferred from his base in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, to Percy Hospital in France.
His situation continued to worsen, and he suffered from acute renal failure, and entered into a neurological coma.
By November 4, 2004, he died of a cerebral haemorrhage, at the age of 75.
- Arafat poisoned to death: Medical journal (theiranproject.com)
- New evidence suggests Arafat poisoning (worldbulletin.net)
- Arafat poisoned to death: Journal (rinf.com)
EU banks still pose systemic threat – FT.com
EU banks still pose systemic threat – FT.com.
- Threat to free banking in EU bid to cap credit card charges for shops (express.co.uk)
- EU proposes centralized plan to close failed banks (news.yahoo.com)
- EU Seeks Card-Fee Caps to Slash Retailers’ Costs by $8 Billion – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Eu Nations Urge National Discretion in Bank-rescue Bills (wesseximat.wordpress.com)
Israeli warplane targets Gaza Strip – Middle East – Al Jazeera English
Israeli warplane targets Gaza Strip – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.
- 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)