With Temperatures Soaring, Gazans Swelter in Makeshift Tents

When Maryam Arafat, her husband and their three young children fled their home in Gaza City under Israeli bombardment, it was the dead of winter. Forced to shelter in a ramshackle tent in Deir al Balah, the family shivered during the bitterly cold nights, as there was no fuel to heat up and not enough clothes to stay warm.

Since then, the weather has turned hot and humid in the coastal Gaza Strip, and that same tent has become unbearable and suffocating.

“The tent feels like it’s on fire,” Ms. Arafat, 23, said. “It’s so hot you can’t bear it, especially with young children.” In her lap, Yahya, who is a year old, screamed in discomfort.

Nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza were forced to flee their homes under Israeli bombardment and military evacuation orders when the weather was cold, and the makeshift tents many found themselves living in provided little protection from the low temperatures. Faced with no heating fuel, Gazans chopped down many of the trees to burn for heating and for cooking.

Now, with a blazing sun overhead, there are few trees to provide shade as temperatures soar, reaching a high of 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday.

Scott Anderson, the deputy director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, said on Sunday that the rising temperatures made combating the spread of disease as much of a priority as delivering food.

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