Israeli Occupation Open Dam Gates Into Gaza; Dozens of Houses Flooded

GazaIn the early morning hours of Sunday, 22 February 2015, and for the second time in two months, the Israeli authorities opened the floodgates of a dam in the Gaza Valley, which flows into the Gaza Strip from the east. As a result, dozens of Palestinian houses and properties were damaged. The Israeli authorities constructed the floodgate that restricts the natural flow of rainwater into Gaza and depletes Gaza’s aquifer.

Al Mezan’s monitoring shows the water level at about three meters above the level of the valley, resulting in the flooding. The homes of residents of the valley’s watercourse were also flooded, where water flowed 200 meters deep. Dozens of poultry and livestock died, and personal belongings were damaged, including furniture, as people were taken by surprise by the sudden wave of water. Travel between Al Nuseirat refugee camp, Al Zahra Town, and Al Moghraga areas was stopped.

The mayor of the Al Moghraga Municipality, Yousif Abu Hweshel, told Al Mezan Center for Human Rights that approximately 50 houses were flooded, dozens of poultry and livestock were killed, and personal belongings were damaged; people were surprised by the sudden flow of water. About 30 families left their homes and sought shelter at Al Wafa Association for Elderly People.

Al Mezan condemns the Israeli conduct that came without prior warning or coordination with Gaza’s local authorities or international organizations working in Gaza. Israeli surveillance of Gaza ensures that Israeli authorities are aware of the consequences of initiating a huge, sudden flow of water into the Strip. Similar conduct was carried out in past few years and hundreds of dunams of agricultural lands, livestock, and houses were affected. The Israeli authorities put in place preparatory precautions on their side of the border; however, Palestinian authorities, with whom Israel had regular coordination, were not informed.

In the light of the above, Al Mezan asserts that the Israeli authorities bear the responsibility for damages resulting from Gaza Valley’s flooding. Al Mezan calls upon the international community to take effective steps to halt the Israeli violations against Gaza’s population, which include the policy of preventing the natural flow of water into the Gaza Strip amid an acute shortage in drinking water for Gaza’s population.

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