“Water” was on the lips of Palestinians thirsting for a return to normality on Monday after Israeli forces ended a siege of a

battered Gaza refugee camp neighbourhood.

Emerging from their homes as Israeli armour left in a cloud of dust, men, women and children in the Tel Sultan area of Rafah

approached journalists in the street to voice one message: “We want water.”

The only thing running in the neighbourhood in the immediate aftermath of the pullout was sewage in streets torn up by tank


Ahmed Toubas said water supplies had been cut for the past six days, since Israeli troops pushed into Rafah camp to search

for weapons smuggling tunnels from nearby Egypt and militants.

“I had a container on the roof and we used the water twice, recyling it,” said the father of nine. “I watched every child who

sipped water. I had to tell my children to stop drinking water.”

Municipal workers moved into Tel Sultan to repair the water pipes, restore power and pile sand on pools of sewage once the

Israeli forces withdrew.

For beekeeper Naeem Hejazi, the damage could not be undone.

He said Israeli army bulldozers that levelled a citrus grove about one km (one-half mile) from the Jewish settlement of

Rafiah Yam crushed his cash crop — 350 boxes of bees that produced about two tonnes of honey a year…


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