Gaza Situation Report 1

09 July 2014

9 July 2014 | Issue No. 1

Due to the escalation in violence over the past 24 hours, UNRWA has declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip and is closely monitoring the situation. The priority for the Agency continues to be its regular operations, however, urgent funding needs persist.


General

Following the escalation in violence between Gaza and Israel in November 2012, an understanding was reached between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Egypt, which called for security for Israel to be met with improvements for Gaza. 2013 was subsequently the quietest year in a decade as regards violence between Israel and Gaza. That relative calm began to break down at the end of 2013, and any remnants have been shattered since the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on 12 June and then the murder of a Palestinian teenager from Shu’fat on 2 July. The escalation of violence in Gaza, particularly over the past 48 hours, has been intense and the situation very much mirrors that of the first days of the November 2012 escalation.

During the past 24 hours alone, some 232 Israeli airstrikes and other fire have struck the Gaza Strip, while some 169 rockets and projectiles have been fired at Israel from Gaza. There are no indications that the violence is likely to recede in the coming days. Continuous targeting bombing of Gaza, including the killing of civilians by Israel, points to a more protracted crisis unfolding.

The streets of Gaza last night and today are virtually empty and almost all shops are closed. The population is extremely concerned at the possibility of even greater violence in the coming hours and days, particularly a ground incursion. People are limiting their movements as much as possible. 
Yesterday, most government institutions were closed, except for medical facilities, as the former de facto employees carried out a one-day strike.

A solution to some form of payment to these 42,000 workers has not been found, and PA staff salaries have not be paid, as the banks have remained closed after gunfire and grenade attacks on some branches in Gaza City.

So far, only very limited displacement has taken place, with small numbers of Gazans seeking refuge in three UNRWA school compounds overnight, as this gave them a greater sense of security. No emergency shelters have yet been opened.

UNRWA Response

  • UNRWA remains deeply concerned at the alarming escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and Southern Israel over the past 24 hours. 
  • UNRWA is closely monitoring the situation. International staff remain in Gaza and will continue to do so; more essential international staff returned to Gaza yesterday. A back office has been opened in the West Bank Field Office to support operations.
  • The priority for the Agency continues to be its regular operations, providing primary health care in 21 health clinics, carrying out food distribution to the 830,000 refugees dependent on UNRWA for this critical support, and conducting environmental health and other activities in the refugee camps. 
  • All distribution centres are operational and 20 of 21 health centres remain open.
  • As UNRWA has always done in the past, it also stands ready to provide whatever emergency assistance it can, should the situation deteriorate even further.
  • Of note is that there has been a significant change in the security situation over the past 24 hours. Specifically, the use of long-range rockets, the targeting of civilian residences and the insurgence deeper into Israel. 

On 8 July, Palestinian security forces sites were evacuated in expectation of Israeli airstrikes. 

Summary of Major Incidents (rockets/airstrikes only)

Reportedly, 169 rockets were fired towards Israel, and 29 rockets were shot down by Iron Dome. Three mortar shells were fired towards Israel. IAF conducted 232 raids firing 362 missiles. Israeli navy fired 142 shells at targets. 37 houses were bombarded by IAF. IDF positioned at the border fired 46 tank shells.

Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 24 Palestinians were killed and over 180 wounded.

UNRWA Casualties. No casualties with an UNRWA connection were reported.

UNRWA Installations. There was some minor collateral damage to UNRWA installations reported: a girls’ school in Khan Younis, a health clinic in northern Rafah, and a boys’ school in Deir El Balah, in the Middle Area.

Approximately 68 people approached three schools for shelter in the evening of 8 July – one in Gaza, one in Rafah and another in Khan Younis. UNRWA did not open the shelters but allowed the families to spend the night in the compounds, which provided a greater sense of security.

Funding Needs

Although operations for UNRWA continue in all five Areas, there is an urgent need for funding to cover the US$ 22 million Emergency Appeal shortfall already projected by the Agency. Currently, the most urgent funding needs include funding to continue the food-assistance programme and additional resources to procure additional non-food items (US$ 1 million) and fuel for critical installations (US$ 2.5 million).

Crossings

  • Rafah crossing was closed.  
  • Erez crossing was open for foreigners and humanitarian cases.
  • Kerem Shalom was open for only fuel and humanitarian supplies.

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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