Gaza Situation Report 27

04 August 2014
Gaza Situation Report 27

4 August 2014 | Issue No. 27

HIGHLIGHTS 

  • UNRWA strongly condemns the Israeli missile strike next to an UNRWA shelter in Rafah, killing nine people, including five children aged 3 to 15 who sought refuge in the school.
  • UNRWA preliminary investigations indicate that five UNRWA emergency shelters – all of which are UN Premises protected under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations – have been subject to direct kinetic strikes by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One of those emergency shelters has been struck on two occasions. Three of these five schools are funded by the United States of America, and a fourth school is funded by the European Commission. UNRWA estimates that a total of 95 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014 in 135 strikes, including at least 10 direct hits. The appalling incident in Rafah yesterday is the first time a strike in the immediate vicinity of one of UNRWA premises caused fatalities, and comes only four days after UNRWA staff carried out dead and wounded civilians from the UN school in Jabalia. UNRWA continues to call upon the State of Israel to respect international law, which requires that principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in an attack must be taken into account by parties to a conflict.
  • The IDP number in UNRWA schools surges to almost 270,000 Palestinians in 90 UNRWA schools. UNRWA staff and emergency operations are at a breaking point.
  • The number of Palestinians killed stands at 1,777, with 127 new fatalities reported by the Protection Cluster, half of which are from the South of the Gaza Strip.

GENERAL 

Past 24 hours: UNRWA strongly condemns the Israeli missile strike next to the UNRWA Preparatory Boys School A in Rafah at 10:45hrs on 3 August, killing nine people, including five children who took refuge in the UN school. According to UNRWA information, the killed children were between 3 and 15 years old. The strike also killed an UNRWA guard who signed his contract with the Agency four days ago, and a volunteer helping those in need. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were notified on 33 separate occasions that this UN school is sheltering the displaced, the last time only one hour before the incident. Almost three thousand people were registered at the school. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the deadly attack on the UN school: “The attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities. United Nations shelters must be safe zones not combat zones. The Israel Defence Forces have been repeatedly informed of the location of these sites. This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.”

In a press statement, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States were “appalled” by the “disgraceful shelling” outside an UNRWA school in Rafah, noting that “the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians”.

UNRWA preliminary investigations indicate that the following UNRWA emergency shelters – all of which are UN Premises protected under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations – were subject to six direct kinetic attacks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The coordinates and joint coordination map references were communicated to the IDF on multiple occasions.

  • 21 and 22 July 2014: Maghazi Preparatory Girls School A & B, Middle Area. The school, which was finalized in 1980 with international support provided to UNRWA, sheltered approximately 1,000 IDPs prior to the first attack.
  • 23 July 2014: Deir El Balah Preparatory Girls School C. The school was completed in 2013 and is funded by the United States of America. It provided refuge to 1,500 Palestinians at the time it was hit.
  • 24 July 2014: Beit Hanoun Elementary Co-ed School A & D, North Area. The school was completed in 1997 and is funded by the United States of America. It provided shelter to approximately 1,200 IDPs the day it was hit.
  • 29 July 2014: Zaitoun Preparatory Girls School B. The school was completed in 2012 and is also funded by the United States of America. It sheltered almost 2,200 IDPs.
  • 30 July 2014: Jabalia Elementary Girls School A & B. The school was built in 1960 from funding provided by the European Commission and sheltered over 3,200 IDPs.

In addition to direct hits by the IDF, there have been multiple incidents of collateral damage to UNRWA installations. The appalling incident in Rafah yesterday is the first time a strike in the immediate vicinity of one of UNRWA premises caused fatalities. UNRWA estimates that 95 installations have been damaged since 8 July in 135 strikes, including at least 10 direct hits. As UNRWA installations in the three kilometer buffer zone and some installations outside the buffer zone are mostly not accessible to the Agency, these data are based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification.

Last night, the IDF announced a humanitarian pause within Gaza except in the areas of Shejaiya (Gaza) and Rafah (South) starting as of 10:00hrs on 4 August. The Israeli government also announced over the past few days the IDF would pull back its troops to the fence surrounding Gaza now that it has almost completed its operation in dismantling tunnels. The IDF may have withdrawn from previous reported locations, but remain within the three kilometer buffer zone inside Gaza.

The number of killed Palestinians surged to 1,777. This figure has risen by 127 compared to that reported in the previous report. According to information from the Protection Cluster, almost half of the new fatalities are from the South. According to the Ministry of Health, the number of wounded has reached 9,370.

UNRWA RESPONSE

  • UNRWA commends the commitment of its staff who provide help to those in need whilst having lost loved ones or their own homes like every other Palestinian in Gaza. Staff are increasingly confronted with displaced who might be agitated or angry, knowing that not even an UNRWA school is a safe place. Shelter managers, for example, are in their 4th week working a minimum of 12 hours per day after sleepless nights due to incessant shelling. As many as 90 people stay in one classroom in the schools, and reports of disputes between family members increase. In one incident yesterday, UNRWA staff members were severely beaten when trying to prevent theft of food commodities designated for UNRWA shelters. The case was reported to the police. The entire security apparatus has not been paid for months, and UNRWA fears a complete breakdown of law and order.
  • UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued to distribute both potable and non-potable water to emergency shelters but struggles to provide sufficient water quantity to almost 270,000 IDPs at a time when there is almost no electricity and the water network is severely damaged. Over the reporting period, 426 cubic meters of potable water were trucked to UNRWA shelters, bringing the potable water supply to about 1.65 liters per person per day, excluding local bottled water supply through partners. Despite the difficult security situation in Rafah, potable water was provided to all shelters. 633 cubic meters of non-potable water was trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to UNRWA shelters. Some shelters benefit from UNRWA wells and municipal water sources. In an effort to improve hygiene it the shelters, up to four shower heads per school have been installed in the shelters located in North, Gaza, Middle Area and parts of Khan Younis.
  • Over the reporting period, UNRWA delivered 29 truckloads of NFIs (including blankets, mats, family hygiene kits, and cleaning supplies) as well as 95 truckloads of food to shelters which is provided in cooperation with WFP.
  • UNRWA’s food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 2,580 families. Distribution was carried out in 8 out of 12 distribution centers, and two schools in the Middle and Gaza Governorate that serve as alternative location to closed distribution centers.
  • UNRWA also continued to provide its logistics capacity to supply fuel to municipalities, water, sanitation and health facilities through the WASH and Health clusters (led by UNICEF and WHO). 24,500 liters were delivered to UNICEF for the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) and 55,000 liters were provided to WHO.
  • Of UNRWA’s sanitation staff, 195 staff members and 216 Palestinians employed under the Job Creation Programme (JCP) reported to work. They removed a total of 334 tonnes of waste in Jabalia, Beach, Nuseirat, Khan Younis and Rafah refugee camps. Burej and Maghazi camps are still not accessible, as within the three kilometer buffer zone under Israel’s control.
  • 13 of 21 health centers were operating. 63 per cent of the staff were able to report to work, and 17,433 patients were served. There is a noticeable increase in patient visits from UNRWA shelters. In the North, UNRWA distributed lice shampoo to shelter residents to prevent head lice infestation amongst shelter residents.

SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS

Reportedly, there were 64 rockets and 82 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 99 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 17 navy shells. 230 tank shells were fired from the border area into populated areas. Reportedly, 35 houses were bombarded.

UNRWA INSTALLATIONS

No additional UNRWA installations were reported damaged during this period. UNRWA estimates that 91 installations have been damaged since 8 July in 124 strikes, including 8 direct hits. Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA installations in the three kilometer buffer zone are mostly inaccessible to UNRWA, and some installations outside the declared buffer zone are not accessible by UNRWA personnel. 

FUNDING NEEDS

UNRWA has launched the second revision of its emergency flash appeal. The Agency now requires a total of US$ 187.6 million in order to provide emergency assistance for a revised scenario of up to 250,000 people displaced for a period of up to eight weeks. 

More information on the revised appeal can be found here.

CROSSINGS

  • The Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing was open for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians. Staff was unable to report to work on the Palestinian side.
  • Erez was closed.
  • Kerem Shalom crossing was open.

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