Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rainy Night in Gaza (Snow, too)

(photo: REUTERS, Mohammed Salem)

In my drought-benighted corner of the world, it's raining. The lid is off my rain barrel outside, and I'm adding to it from the buckets of water we collect from our sinks and shower. We can't relax our conservation measures, of course, but there's a sense of well-being that descends when the clouds are heavy above us and the heavier it pours, the cheerier my husband and I become. It's a different story in Gaza, though, where it rained and even snowed today, flooding the tents of the some of the thousands of families homeless since the Israeli onslaught in January. Rebuilding has yet to begin: Israel continues to limit the numbers of trucks bringing in food and other supplies to the OPT. Building materials, textbooks, clothing, seedlings, fertilizers and irrigation pipes are banned, according to Michael Bailey of Oxfam. Helena Cobban is in Jerusalem right now, and has some very interesting posts. In one this week she noted:
I have made a few attempts to ask humanitarian-aid people what the dreaded Israeli blacklist of foodstuffs that cannot be sent into Gaza contains. But they have stayed largely closed-lipped. The OCHA report says this:
The Israeli criteria used for processing import requests into Gaza remain unclear. During the reporting period the Israeli authorities rejected entry to 30 metric tonnes of chickpeas, 43 pallets of macaroni, 137 pallets of wheat flour, 131 recreational kits, 68 pallets of stationary items for students, 150 school-in-a-box kits, 33 boxes of medicine, 22 freezer appliances, 3 generators, and 4 water pumps.

While a conference begins Monday in Egypt to discuss how to repair Gaza, politics of many stripes will slow it down. Meanwhile, rain falls on the tents in Gaza, tonight.

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