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Palestinian rescue members evacuate residents using a fishing boat following heavy rains in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Rescue workers evacuated more than 5,000 Gaza Strip residents from homes flooded by four days of heavy rain, using fishing boats and heavy construction equipment to pluck some of those trapped from upper floors, an official said Saturday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Gaza flooding drives thousands from their homes

Flooding from heavy rains forced some 40,000 Gaza Strip residents from their homes, including thousands who were taken to safety in boats and military trucks, officials said Saturday.

The downpour that began late Wednesday was part of a storm that covered parts of Israel and the West Bank with snow, paralyzed Jerusalem and left thousands in Israel without power. Israeli TV stations showed footage of armored personnel carriers rescuing motorists and said it was the most severe snow storm in decades.

Even Gaza with its milder coastal climate saw some snow, though lower-lying areas were mainly hit by flooding.

Rescue efforts were hampered by fuel shortages and rolling power cuts that have become more severe in recent months, since Egypt tightened a border blockade of the territory, ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas since 2007. (AP)

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