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Flood leaves Gaza in ruins, UN declares state of emergency

An estimated 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged as the streets of Gaza City. They were flooded with water and sewage after a week of torrential downpours, prompting the UN Palestinian refugee agency to declare a state of emergency in the area.

READ MORE: Israel refuses cooperation with UN Gaza war probe, calls it ‘one-sided’

Forced out of their homes, thousands of Palestinians are now sleeping in classrooms and makeshift shelters after a massive weeklong storm ravaged the region, reports the Ma’an News Agency. This includes the nearly 30,000 who had been staying at emergency housing after Israel’s 51-day summer offensive.

Gaza homes flood in heavy rains, "humanitarian catastrophe," mayor warns https://t.co/VDQX4C30sH via @MiddleEastMntpic.twitter.com/itgqhKu57q

— ISM Palestine (@ISMPalestine) November 27, 2014

“The flooding is exacerbating the already-dire humanitarian situation in Gaza caused by blockade and the unprecedented destruction from the latest Israeli offensive,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

As a result of the flooding, 63 schools across Gaza City and 43 schools across the Northern Gaza Strip governorate were closed Thursday, according to the UNRWA. The Washington Post reported that volunteers are trying to stop the water with mud and sand-filled garbage bags.

A man looks out of his shop as Palestinians walk through a flooded road following heavy rain in Gaza City November 27, 2014.(Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

Pumping water out of flooded areas is particularly problematic due to the severe lack of fuel in the Gaza Strip, aggravated by Israel’s eight-year blockade. In addition, the area lacks adequate sewer management facilities, making recovery from the crisis even more challenging.

#Palestinians build a tent to protect them from #rain .. there home was bombed in last #Israeli aggression on #Gaza.. pic.twitter.com/HgZOsdTrqI

— Said Shoaib سعيدشعيب (@saidshouib) November 26, 2014

On Wednesday, Gaza major Nizar Hijazi warned residents that the Strip’s lack of resources could trigger a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“The infrastructure of the Gaza Strip is weak and ill-equipped to receive any increased rainfall because of the disaster caused by the increased rainfall last year and the recent war which destroyed a large part of the Strip,” he said.

The UNRWA vowed to provide “emergency fuel to supply back-up generators for pumping stations, portable pumps, municipalities, water, sanitation and health facilities” to combat shortages on Thursday.

Father of the Month... Palestinian father gives his daughter a piggyback to school as #Gaza streets were in flood pic.twitter.com/3UTsXoQMWj

— Gaza Writes Back (@ThisIsGaZa) November 25, 2014

Severe flooding is not unusual for the region. Last December, heavy rains swamped the Strip and resulted in the displacement of some 40,000 Palestinians.

Though international donors pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild war-torn Gaza at Cairo summit earlier this fall, reconstruction has not yet begun. Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian official responsible for the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, however, told Ma’an that Israel has given the go-ahead for the entry of 350 supply trucks into the region earlier this

READ MORE: International effort raises $5.4 billion for Gaza

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