Palestinian man braves icy water to show solidarity

A 60-year-old Palestinian man swims in icy water to show solidarity for Gazans and Syrians residing in makeshift tents

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A Palestinian man, aged 60, swam in freezing cold water on Thursday to show solidarity with Gazans and Syrian refugees residing in makeshift tents as unusually powerful winter storms and torrential rain sweep through the Middle East and North Africa region.

Dozens of people in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil watched Isaac Ayesh Abu Mayala swim in the icy water donning only his beige shorts.

According to the local Sama News website, this is Abu Mayala’s second attempt to swim in icy water to show solidarity with those left vulnerable due to the region’s volatile politics.

The snowstorm dubbed as “Huda” or “Zina” brought gale-force winds of 80 kilometers per hour with it, threatening to blow makeshift homes away.

The freezing rain and the winds battered the Gaza Strip where more than 100,000 homes were destroyed or damaged during the 50-day conflict with Israel, which saw more than 2,200 Gazans killed last year.

The snowstorm caused an even deeper humanitarian crisis for Syrian refugees who are scattered across the neighboring countries.

Local Lebanese media reported on Thursday that five Syrian refugees, including three children, were killed because of the snowstorm.

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