IDF provides rapid and extensive assistance to Palestinians in need during the December Storm
IDF provides rapid and extensive assistance to Palestinians in need during the December Storm
IDF provides rapid and extensive assistance to Palestinians in need during the December Storm

IDF and COGAT coordinate and supply much needed help and supplies in the wake of the one of the largest storms the region has ever seen.

Date: 19.12.13     Author: Raanan Loew

This past weekend, December 11-15, Israel and the Gaza Strip were hit with an intense winter storm which led to severe problems throughout the region. Flooding, closed roads, loss of electricity and water, as well as numerous other snow and rain related issues were widespread. COGAT and the IDF worked tirelessly to bring relief to the affected areas as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Wide swaths of the Gaza Strip were without power for more than 24 hours, 760 families had to be evacuated due to flooding and approximately 1,000 buildings sustained serious damage and are no longer fit for occupants. Additionally, 70 smuggling tunnels collapsed during the storm. As part of the rapid response, COGAT announced that it was prepared to facilitate assistance to any organization which desires to transfer aid to Gaza.

To facilitate the entry of needed aid, the Kerem Shalom border crossing was opened on Friday (13.12.13) in order to enable the entry of 110 tons of cooking gas into the Strip. The “Mekorot” water company also loaned four water pumps to the Gaza Strip to help in the drainage process, and UNRWA has donated 10,000 liters of fuel to ensure the pumps operate full time. On Sunday the 15th, the Kerem Shalom Crossing, for the first time ever, was used to allow the entry and exit of people into Gaza. Meanwhile, enormous amounts of material were transferred into the Gaza Strip, including 241 tons of cooking gas, 223,000 liters on benzene, 763,000 liters of diesel, 148 trucks of consumer goods and two trucks of emergency supplies donated by the ICRC.

The West Bank suffered from widespread road closings, power outages, and the collapse of several buildings. Furthermore, the water supply to the Governmental hospital in Ramallah lost water as a result of the power outages. In order to restore power as quickly as possible, the Israeli Electrical Company worked closely with the IDF. Rescue operations conducted by the IDF were responsible for the rescue of dozens of individuals around Nablus, as well as three pregnant Palestinian women who had become stuck on a road near Hebron, and the extraction of a Palestinian ambulance after it became trapped in the snow.

On Sunday, the road to the isolated Nabee- Samuel village was cleared by IDF vehicles, allowing COGAT soldiers and officers to enter and distribute much needed food and supplies to the villagers. “We were in contact with the chairman of the regional board since the beginning of the storm, so we came to their aid” said Lt . Col Eyad Sarhan, Commander of the Jerusalem Periphery DCO.