Gaza Emergency: Daily Situation Reports

Gaza Situation Report (Issue no 14) - July 22, 2014

On 7 July, UNRWA declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip in response to escalating violence between Israel and Hamas. Since then, civilian displacement and fatalities have risen sharply. The total number of Palestinian deaths currently stands at 582. The number of displaced into UNRWA schools is now double the peak number from the 2008/9 conflict, and now exceeds 102,000 in 68 schools. UNRWA has already had to revise its emergency flash appeal to US$ 115 million to respond to the dramatically increased humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.

General

Past 24 hours: Serious concerns were raised over the past 24 hours regarding respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL). UNRWA strongly condemns an attack on an UNRWA school in Maghazi sheltering approximately 1,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and operating as a designated emergency shelter. The shelter was struck by explosive ordnance believed to have been fired by Israel, which injured one IDP. Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir El Baleh was also reportedly shelled, killing five people, including two doctors, and wounding at least 70. These incidents represent distinct breaches of IHL and come as the international community is increasingly expressing concern with the high numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza. UNRWA reiterates calls made by the international community for full respect for IHL, including full respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack during the conduct of hostilities.

The number of Palestinians killed in the conflict passed 500 today. In the past 24- hour period, 107 Palestinians were killed, including 22 women and 22 children. Devastatingly, the bodies of 12 members of one family, all children, were removed from the rubble of a building in Bani Suhaila, Khan Younis on 21 July. At least 3,720 Palestinians were injured during this 24-hour period. Nine Israeli soldiers were reportedly killed during this period, with international media reporting that the Israeli death toll currently stands at 29, including 2 civilians.

With an ongoing and intensifying ground operation, levels of displacement continue to grow. In the past 24 hours, almost 18,000 additional people sought refuge in UNRWA shelters, bringing the total number of IDPs in UNRWA shelters to 102,788. This figure represents about 6 per cent of Gaza’s total population. As of 22 July, IDPs are being housed in 68 UNRWA shelters, with shelters in Beit Hanoun and Maghzai having been closed and IDPs moved to other shelters during this period due to heavy fighting.

Despite the sharp increase in displacement over the past 24 hours, UNRWA, in partnership with WFP, was able to provide basic food to every IDP who presented themselves at UNRWA shelters. The food basket provided in UNRWA shelters was today diversified to include bread, cans of tuna, canned meat, cream cheese and vegetables. 12 truckloads of Non Food Items (NFIs) were delivered to shelters in this 24-hour period.

While responding to the urgent needs of displaced Gazans, UNRWA has continued its regular operations to the degree that security has permitted. On 21 July, 13 out of 21 UNRWA Health Centers were open and 6,783 patients presented at UNRWA Health Centers across the Gaza Strip, including 505 children. UNRWA sanitation workers have continued to collect solid waste from UNRWA Camps and shelters. On 21 July, 351 Sanitation Laborers reported to work in all but three areas of the Gaza Strip (Bureij, Maghazi and Deir El Baleh were inaccessible due to heavy fighting and access restrictions); and removed 201 tones of solid waste.

On 21 July, an airlift of urgent humanitarian supplies from International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) landed at Marka International Airport, Jordan. Under the direction of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the airlift included 45,000 mattresses, 10,000 blankets and 220 hygiene kits; and is currently being transported to Gaza. This generous donation is welcomed by UNRWA and will be of great help in providing urgently needed supplies to UNRWA shelters which are under enormous pressure. The IHC has also coordinated for further airlifts of humanitarian supplies to Gaza, including jerry cans, sleeping mats, blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits and kitchen sets. As highlighted by UNRWA Commissioner- General, Pierre Krähenbühl, this support “is one of the best examples of how effective humanitarians can be when working together”.

International efforts continue to bring about a peaceful resolution to the current conflict. UN Secretary- General, Ban Ki-Moon, speaking from Cairo on 21 July, stressed once again that “the violence must stop - it must stop now” and described Gaza as “an open wound”. The Secretary- General recognized that “going back to the status quo ante won’t solve the problem; it will defer it for another day”. For a sustainable peace to be maintained, a long term solution is needed to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which is compounding the devastating effects of years of blockade and isolation of Gaza. UNRWA reiterates calls from the international community both for a cessation in hostilities and an end to the crippling blockade on Gaza.

UNRWA’s response

  • UNRWA is now providing shelter to more than 102,788 beneficiaries all five areas of the Gaza Strip. There are currently 68 designated emergency shelters, with more expected to open throughout the day. The priority continues to be the provision of food, water, sleeping, hygiene and cleaning items.
  • During this period, food and water rations were distributed to shelters. This includes 15 trucks of NFIs and 40 of food.
  • 40,000 tonnes of diesel were delivered to water and sewage pump stations.
  • Regular UNRWA operations are affected but continue as security permits. 13 of 21 health clinics remain operational, and regular UNRWA services are available. 6,783 people visited UNRWA health clinics on 21 July, including 505 children who had regular check-ups and/or immunizations. In addition, there were 276 visits to the dentist at UNRWA health clinics.
  • Regular sanitation operations continue, with 351 sanitation workers reporting for work in all but 3 areas of the Gaza Strip. Maghazi, Bureij and Deir El Baleh were inaccessible due to heavy fighting and access restrictions.

Summary of Major Incidents

Reportedly, there were 205 rockets and 51 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 183 missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 233 navy shells and 963 tank shells. Reportedly, 66 houses were bombarded.

For the first time in this conflict, an UNRWA staff member, a female teacher, has been confirmed to have been killed.

UNRWA Installations

A total of 77 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June 2014.

In the past 24 hours, two UNRWA installations were damaged – one school in Beit Hanoun and one in Maghazi.

Funding Needs

On 17 July, UNRWA launched an emergency flash appeal for US$ 60 million to respond to the urgent and pressing humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, including the thousands who have already fled their homes to seek safety in UNRWA facilities. This funding was to enable UNRWA to respond to the immediate shelter, food, health and psychosocial needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), while replenishing emergency supplies and preparing for vital interventions necessary after a cessation of military activities. The emergency response phase was expected to last for one month, and the early recovery a further three to six months.

Based on the escalating number of IDPs and further destruction of shelters, a revised appeal was released on 22 July, for an additional US$ 55 million. UNRWA now estimates that US$ 115 million is needed to provide emergency assistance to 150,000 people through its shelters- where food, NFI and psychosocial support are provided- and through health and social service facilities available to those not taking refuge in UNRWA shelters. This funding will also allow UNRWA to start early recovery activities once hostilities cease.

More information on the appeal can be found by here

Crossings

  • Rafah crossing was open for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians.
  • Erez was open only for foreigners and humanitarian medical cases.
  • Kerem Shalom crossing was open for food and fuel.

Background

Following the escalation in violence between Gaza and Israel in November 2012 an understanding was reached between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Egypt. 2013 was subsequently the quietest year in a decade, in terms of hostilities between Israel and Gaza. Events in 2014, however, have led to a profound deterioration in the situation.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza entered its 8th year in June 2014 and continues to have a devastating effect as access to markets and people’s movement to and from the Gaza Strip remain severely restricted. The economy and its capacity to create jobs has been devastated, with the majority of the population becoming dependent on humanitarian aid to meet basic needs. The number of Palestine refugees relying on UNRWA for food aid has increased from fewer than 80,000 in 2000 to over 830,000 today.

Gaza: Facts and Figures

  • 1.2 million refugees
  • 8 refugee camps
  • Over 12,500 staff
  • 245 schools for more than 230,000 students
  • 21 health centres
  • 12 food distribution centres for more than 830,000 refugees
  • Living under a tightened land and sea blockade since 2007
  • Shattered local economy

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight.

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