Rain and flooding pile on the misery for Gazans fleeing Israeli bombs

'Perfect storm for disease' as families forced to sleep on wet mattresses without food or medicine in besieged enclave

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Heavy rain and strong winds are adding to the misery of thousands of displaced Palestinians who are contending with Israeli bombs, hunger and diseases in tented camps.

With cold winds causing the temperature to plunge overnight, people were forced to sleep under leaking plastic tents as Israeli bombs keep pummelling the Gaza Strip.

Footage on social media showed women and children huddling under wet plastic sheets and men draining rainwater from their tents using trays and buckets.

In a widely circulated video, a man can be seen holding up a Palestinian child as the youngster wades through knee-high water in Jabalia refugee camp.

Kamlia Abu Khadra, a resident of the Nuseirat camp, said most of her family's clothes are wet and they lack warm blankets.

"Rainwater entered to our tent and everything is wet," she told The National.

“We suffer not only from the cold, we are also hungry," she said. Her children are waking up hungry and crying for food, she added.

“What we experience now, no one can imagine."

Alaa Al Jamalaa, who is also living in a tent, said her blankets and mattresses were wet.

"I spent the night trying to take water out from the tent. The water spoiled the food that we had stored," she said.

“Since yesterday, my children have not eaten and no one came to offer anything for us. And we don’t have money to buy anything.”

More than 1.9 million people are believed to have been displaced in the past two months, with many fleeing to Rafah, near the Egyptian border, as Israeli forces fight Hamas.

The city has turned into a camp for the displaced, with thousands pitching tents in miserable conditions as heavy rain drenched the Gaza Strip overnight.

Families are using thin tarpaulin streets to shelter from rain that has wreaked havoc in many camps, with rainwater gushing into some makeshift tents.

Israel continues to bomb Gaza

Israeli artillery shelling continued in eastern, northern and southern areas of Gaza overnight on Wednesday, the enclave’s Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

Twenty-seven Palestinians were killed as Israel shelled two houses near the Al Dakhani area in the centre of Rafah.

It brings the number of Palestinians killed to more than 18,600 since the war began. At least 228 Palestinians have been killed in UNRWA shelters, the UN refugee agency said on X, formerly Twitter.

Ashraf Al Qudra, Ministry of Health spokesman in Gaza, said the Israeli army has killed 16 people in the past 24 hours.

"Since the beginning of the aggression, Israel has arrested 38 health staff, headed by Mohammed Abu Salmiya, director general of Al Shifa Medical Complex, in inhumane conditions of interrogation under torture and starvation," he said.

"The occupation forces are still arresting a number of hospital managers and interrogating them under torture.” He said Israel has killed 300 healthcare workers and destroyed 102 ambulances since the start of the war.

Israel has vowed to keep fighting in Gaza until it crushes Hamas, even as it faces mounting international calls for a ceasefire.

"We are continuing until the end, there is no question," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late on Wednesday. “I say this even given the great pain and the international pressure. Nothing will stop us.”

The coastal strip is now facing a public health disaster due to the collapse of its health system and the spread of disease, the UN's humanitarian office said.

"We've got a textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster," said Lynn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

James Elder, chief spokesman for the UN children's fund (Unicef), said the “perfect storm for diseases” had begun in Gaza.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 1:01 PM