PA minister blames Hamas for Gaza floods

Cabinet minister Majdi al-Saleh says Hamas diverted money intended for Strip’s infrastructure.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

A Palestinian Authority cabinet minister is taking flak after blaming Hamas for flooding in the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reported.

PA Minister for Local Government Majdi al-Saleh leveled his criticism during an interview on PA-run Voice of Palestine radio.

“Hamas bears responsibility for the tragedy that took place in the Gaza Strip in the past two days,” Saleh said. “The de facto [Hamas] government must pay to the municipalities and fund their projects instead of spending the money on other channels, which are often underground.”

According to the Post, Saleh’s comments reflected criticism of Hamas, which has diverted money earmarked for infrastructure towards its network of tunnels along Gaza’s borders with Israel and Egypt.

Hamas frequently blames Israel for Gaza’s chronic winter floods, claiming Israel opens up dams in the south of the country, but according to the Post, Palestinians on social media are have been ridiculing that claim. There are no dams in southern Israel.

Other Palestinians say Gaza infrastructure is shoddy because of Israeli restrictions on construction material such as cement, gravel and steel bars. Israel restricts construction material because Hamas has diverted them for tunnels.

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In response to Saleh, Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said “[These] irresponsible statements are devoid of national and humanitarian sense and serve only the narrative of the occupation.”

Qanou added, “It would have been better had Saleh assumed his responsibilities toward the Gaza Strip and its residents instead of endorsing Israel’s talking points.”

According to Hebrew media reports, Gazans were also angry with Hamas for keeping schools open and forcing children to venture out into flooded streets.

“I don’t understand how the school principal sends the students outside in such weather when the street is flooded, first- and second-grade children,” said one parent.

The Post noted that Saleh’s remarks come as Fatah and Hamas leaders are due to meet in Algeria where President Abdelmajid Tebboune is due to host national reconciliation talks this week.

Tuesday brought some respite from the winter showers, but rain and near-freezing temperatures are forecast for on Wednesday.