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Deluge-hit Palestinians Blame Israeli Separation Wall
NABLUS, February 17 (IslamOnline.net) – "They have turned a blessing from God into a curse. They have deliberately left us prey to the deluge," said Bilal Al-Baz with tear-soaked eyes.
The scene was not in one of the several Asian countries battered by the killer tsunami but rather in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya.
Many Palestinian houses were flooded after Israel refused to open rain hatches in the separation wall.
The downpour of rain has left the newly-built two-story house of Baz, a 42 -year-old Palestinian farmer, swimming in water.
"I was sitting with my family watching television. Suddenly, waters began creeping into the house," Baz recalled.
"We battled to stop the water from flowing into the house but in vain and were taken aback by tidal waves that smashed the door and drowned the first floor."
Fleeing with their lives, the Baz family rushed to the second floor and the man had to swim his way across the village to call for help.
But what has this got to do with Israel?
"They not only built their Separation Wall 100 meters from our homes, they adamantly refused to open the hatches and allow the waters down the valleys."
After the International Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling branding the wall as illegal, the UN General Assembly asked Israel to tear it down and compensate the Palestinians affected.
The 600 -km-long separation wall has resulted in the confiscation of 11 , 4000dunums (2, 850acres -1 , 140hectares) of privately-owned Palestinian land and in the destruction of102 , 320trees, said a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
It will eventually snake some 900 kilometers along the West Bank and leave even larger swathes of its territory on the Israeli side.
The OCHA estimated that with the competition of the wall, 30 percent of the West Bank population, or some680 , 000people, will be "directly harmed".
Qalqiliya inhabitants were hopeful the rains will augur well for a fruitful agricultural season, but the Israeli wall turned their dreams to a nightmare.
Baz was not the only Palestinian farmer harmed by the deluge.
More than 250 other Palestinians lost their homes and farms to the downpour diverted by the Israeli wall.
Mohamed Salmy lost his main source of income after his22 -dunum farm, cultivated with different kinds of vegetables, was flooded.
He, however, was grateful that none of his family was hurt.
Rashad Salmy, another farmer, also lost his farm and cattle to the heavy rains.
"Israel wants to increase the Palestinians' sufferings by its wall," he lamented.
Palestinian authorities estimated the damages in Qalqiliya and neighboring villages at around1 . 4million US dollars.
Around 700 dunums of agricultural lands were completely destroyed and more than 60 sheep and6 , 000poultry were lost, according to a report by the agriculture department.
Several factories, shops and a bridge were also destroyed by the heavy rains, the report added.
Even schools were hard-hit by the Israeli-triggered flood.
Al-Sharka primary school was closed down after flooded by the outpouring.
"The waters struck the school in a way that threatened the lives of the pupils," said headmistress Afnan al-Shanti.
"Thank God none of the 850 pupils was hurt."
Palestinian students in several towns and areas are required to deftly climb the nine-meter-high concrete parts of Israel’s 700 -km-long separation wall to make it to school.