Four people, including three children, die as violent storms hit the occupied Palestine territories

Publié: 22 janvier 2015 14:36 CET

By Hanne Sorine Sorensen and Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

A strong and violent winter storm severely hit the occupied Palestine territories in early January, covering the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with snow and rain and leaving at least four people dead. The Palestine Red Crescent Society mobilized teams and resources to respond to the emerging needs of communities affected by the conditions.

Two children and one man died during the freezing temperatures in Gaza, while a third child was killed by a fire caused by an unsafe heater. 76 people were reportedly injured in weather-related slips and falls, and another 22 inhaled poisonous smoke emitted by heating devices.

In the West Bank, storm ‘Huda’ left Ramallah and the high-altitude areas of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nablus covered in snow, while severe floods and high-speed winds were reported in the Gaza Strip.

The storm was particularly felt in Gaza which is still recovering from the conflict which flared up last summer. During that time, more than 18,000 houses were destroyed or damaged in the Strip and since then, about 100,000 Gazans have been living in inadequate shelters unsuited to the freezing weather and floods.

Inconsistent power supplies have also made it difficult to find reliable heating for many families.

As soon as storm ‘Huda’ hit the region, the Palestine Red Crescent Society mobilized 1,000 volunteers to assist the most vulnerable communities, targeting 11,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank. Red Crescent operation rooms, branches, health care centres and Emergency Medical Services were also activated to respond to the increasing number of emergency calls, as well as to provide relief items and basic necessities.

The National Society also conducted a Rapid Needs Assessment and revised its Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment to improve its response to the weather disaster.

Meanwhile on ground, volunteers distributed necessary relief items such as tarpaulins, plastic sheets, hygiene kits, kitchen tools, mattresses, pillows, blankets, kerosene heaters and tents. During the four days of the storm,  the society distributed relief items to 4,800 people.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies has been closely following up on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and is gearing up support for the National Society particularly as fear is rising over the possibility of another deadly storm hitting the region soon.