Israel ‘opens dams’ flooding Gaza Strip near Deir al Balah
BETHLEHEM – The Gaza Government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory.
Committee chairman Yasser Shanti said in a press conference that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just to the east of the border with the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.
He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.
He said that the move by Israeli authorities would flood areas in Moghraqa and other parts of Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, and he called upon residents of areas near the Gaza Valley to evacuate their homes in preparation for the anticipated flooding.
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.
Lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.
The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.
GAZA — Israeli occupation forces opened on Sunday Wadi Sofa dam east of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, flooding dozens of Palestinian homes, local sources said.
The IOF opened its dams towards Palestinian houses without any prior warning for the second time since the stormy weather hit the region recently.
Rescue teams have evacuated trapped people from their flooded houses and transferred them to safe places and shelter centers.
Several Israeli earth dams have been established to the east of Gaza Strip, in order to benefit from rainwater and prevent its access to Gaza; however in such cases the Israeli occupation opens its dams toward the Strip to prevent swamping its agriculture lands.
Many residential areas and agricultural lands in Gaza were flooded when the Israeli authorities opened up the dams, which aggravated the population’s suffering. … Full article
By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | December 17, 2013
It has been reported in the past several days, by Ma’an News and on several websites including this one, that Israel may have opened one or more dams resulting in the severe flooding we have seen in Gaza and further exacerbated conditions already made dire by the onslaught of winter storm Alexa. This at any rate is the charge that has been made by the Gaza government’s Disaster Response Committee and its chairman, Yasser Shanti.
So far I myself have heard no official response from Israel either confirming or denying. However, the following is reported by the Middle East Monitor:
According to Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the rainfall led to a lot of excess water which couldn’t drain away, so “the Israeli authorities resorted to discharging the excess water into the Gaza Strip.”
I could not find this reported on Ynet’s English website, but it’s possible it was reported in the Hebrew edition. So was a dam released? All we have to go on is the statement by Shanti, accompanied, of course, by the shocking images we have seen of inundated streets, flooded homes, and people paddling in boats. But I did come across this video and thought I would share it. If it turns out that a dam or floodgate of some sort was deliberately released, it apparently would not be without precedent. The following was reported by Press TV in January of 2010—and take special note of what the reporter says regarding the flooding and its coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the close of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.
If Israel did this in 2010, does it beggar belief they would have done the same thing again this past week? If they did, the question then becomes did they do it out of a) a need to divert flooding from their own communities in Israel, or b) pure malice?
The question of whether a dam was opened or floodwater in some way diverted is addressed in a report on the Gaza flooding published at The Ecologist, an environmental website:
Amid the chaos it is impossible to verify the accusations. The heavy rain has also affected bordering areas of Israel and whether or not dams have been deliberately opened, drainage systems in Sderot and other cities were certainly overwhelmed by the volume of water.
What is certain is that low-lying Gaza, on the coastal plain, lacking functioning drainage and sewage systems, would in any case suffer most severely from the rainfall. Moreover Israel already stands accused of deliberately running down basic sanitation services in Gaza in order to make life unlivable for its residents.
And as Gaza resident Fidaa Abuassi points out: “Unlike their neighbors in Sderot Gaza’s refugees have nowhere to flee when heavy rains flood their 25-mile occupied territory, blockaded by land, air, and sea.”
Even as the floodwaters recede, there may be worse to come. The report warns of what most likely is an “impending health catastrophe” in the making, with a flare up of respiratory and skin diseases brought on by constant exposure to sewage water and lack of medical supplies.