Gazans freezing amid rubble

Many thousands of Gazans face a freezing winter living in tents pitched amid the rubble of their ruined homes.

More than four months after the 50-day summer war with Israel, 17,000 Gazans still remain displaced, having to live in temporary shelters. A total of 120,000 homes are estimated to have been destroyed in the Israeli air strikes that claimed 2,000 Palestinian lives.

“The whole area is in ruins and it’s practically impossible to live here,” Gazan resident Mahmud Hammash tells RT. “Even the undamaged houses are not fit for living. And the freezing cold has only made matters worse. A week ago the situation for all of us was unbearable.”

Hammash refers to last week’s winter storm, which killed three infants who froze to death. Gale force winds then brought with them freezing temperatures and torrential rains which led to large areas being flooded.

The situation is catastrophic, according to Amjad Al Shawa, a human rights activist and head of the Palestinian NGOs network in the Gaza Strip. He says shortly after the war the international community vowed to help Gaza. It’s still only a promise, though.

“Last October, we had the donors’ conference for Gaza construction, which was held in Cairo,” Al Shawa told RT. “There was about $2.7 billion that the international community was ready to pay… Only 2 percent of that money arrived.”

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said it has only received $135 million from the international community, and was facing “a funding gap of $585 million for shelter assistance.” UNRWA says it will run out of money for the Gazans in February.

The money it has so far received was distributed among 40,000 families who desperately need to repair their homes.

Among major factors hampering the reconstruction effort is Israel’s blockade of the territory.

[Read full RT article]

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