30 July 2014 | Issue No. 22
Nothing and nobody is safe in Gaza. To date, seven UNRWA staff members were killed. This morning, for at least the sixth time, one of UNRWA’s emergency shelters has been struck. In accordance with international law, including the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, United Nations operations, personnel and premises must remain inviolable. There are limitations to UNRWA’s capacity to continue operations amid these conditions. Under International Humanitarian Law, Israel, as the Occupying Power of the Gaza Strip, bears the primary responsibility for ensuring the protection of the Palestinian civilian population and ensuring that their basic needs are met.
Since last night, over 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are sheltered in 85 UNRWA schools. Whereas UNRWA staff have worked round the clock in this unprecedented crisis, with inadequate resources and in an increasingly deteriorating security environment, UNRWA does not have infinite capacity to absorb an increasing IDP influx. The remaining empty UNRWA school buildings are either inaccessible or unsafe, and other shelter solutions, for example tents, are not viable options for Gaza. With the current escalation entering its fourth week, there is a very real fear of a public health disaster through a disease outbreak given the lack of proper water and sanitation facilities in the designated shelters. It is also becoming increasingly unlikely the new school year will start on 24 August.
To date, the total number of Palestinian deaths reported by the UN stands at 1,130. This figure has risen by 24 compared to that reported in the previous 24 hour period. The number of wounded, as reported by the Ministry of Health, has reached 7,150. According to various media outlets, the number of Israeli casualties is 53 soldiers and 3 civilians.
Past 24 hours: Last night witnessed particularly heavy shelling in the North. In the early morning of 30 July, an UNRWA school in Jabalia that sheltered about 3,300 people was shelled, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. Initial investigations suggest that it was Israeli artillery that hit the school. In his statement, UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl condemned the attack: “We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. We believe there were at least three impacts. It is too early to give a confirmed official death toll. These are people who were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli army. The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection; the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling.”
It is at least the sixth time an UNRWA emergency shelter was struck. There is widespread fear amongst the displaced and UNRWA staff about the deteriorating security environment. Gazans feel that there is no safe place in the entire Gaza Strip, and that not even the UN can protect them.
Also in Jabalia on 29 July, a staff member was killed when driving in an UNRWA vehicle. Earlier that day, two UNRWA staff members died when an explosive projectile struck a private home in Nuseirat. UNRWA is deeply saddened to have lost seven staff members since 7 July 2014.
Gaza’s sole power plant shut down after being hit and damaged. The repair is going to take up to a year, thus dramatically exacerbating the Gazan electricity crisis. OCHA reported that following the damage of the power plant, Gaza City is receiving electricity for about two hours a day, while localities in the Middle Area have no supply at all. The destruction of the Gaza power plant will impact private households, companies and public services provision, including water, sanitation and health facilities. Facilities need to rely on generators, which are both costly and are fire hazards. Moreover, there is reportedly no fuel available on the local market.
Reportedly there were 56 rockets and 38 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 137 missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 97 navy shells. The IDF – inside Gaza or positioned at the border – fired 822 tank shells in to populated areas. Reportedly, 43 houses were bombarded.
Four additional UNRWA installations were reported damaged during this period, all of them schools.
An estimated 101 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June, 2014, many of them on multiple occasions. UNRWA is still to verify this number when the security situation allows.
UNRWA has launched an emergency flash appeal for US$ 115 million to respond to the urgent and pressing humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza. Given that the number of displaced in UNRWA shelters already exceeds that anticipated in the revised flash appeal, an updated appeal will be communicated in the coming days. Most urgent are food, non-food items, psycho-social interventions and cash assistance.
More information on the revised appeal can be here.
Rafah crossing was open for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians.
Erez was closed.
Kerem Shalom crossing was open.