9 August 2014 | Issue No. 32
With the resumption of hostilities, 238,097 IDPs are currently seeking a safe space in 90 UNRWA schools. A new shelter was opened in the Middle Area (Maghazi).
- The 72-hour ceasefire expired on 8 August at 08:00hrs. Rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes resumed. Hamas announced on the local radio they were not responsible for the rockets fired towards Israel, stating Islamic Jihad and other resistance groups held responsibility. According to UN reports, there were no rockets fired towards Israel between 21:05hrs and 06:00hrs this morning. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) continued firing air-to-ground missiles into Gaza throughout the night, mainly in the North and Gaza City, causing fear and anxiety amongst the population.
- With the resumption of hostilities, there is a widespread feeling amongst Palestinians that, should they be lucky enough to survive the war, there is nothing to look forward to, that there is no future in Gaza. As the UN Secretary-General has pointed out on several occasions, the root causes of the conflict must be addressed. Gaza cannot return to the status quo of the blockade, where people are deprived of any semblance of a normal life. The Israeli blockade on Gaza has locked in 1.8 million people in what is one of the world’s most densely populated areas, without the possibility to export, with imports tightly constrained, access to fishing areas and agricultural land severely restricted, and movement of people virtually banned.
- As of 8 August 16:30 hrs, over 220,000 Palestinians took refuge in UNRWA’s 89 shelters. With the resumption of hostilities, the number of IDPs in UNRWA and government shelters is expected to climb further as Palestinians continue fleeing their homes in search for a safe place to stay. UNRWA continues to provide food, water and non food items to IDPs sheltered in the schools, caters for psychosocial and health needs of the displaced, and provides fuel through UNICEF and WHO to the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) and hospitals. Almost 30,000 IDPs are currently sheltered in 28 government schools, with UN agencies, including UNRWA, providing support such as food, non food items and water. As the number of IDPs in UNRWA schools had temporarily declined during the 72-hour ceasefire, UNRWA was also in a position to donate some in-kind food commodities to WHO for distribution to hospitals. As there is almost no electricity, the Agency is also providing generators and fuel to local bakeries to prevent a collapse of the market.
- Even if hostilities stopped today and all displaced would leave the shelters immediately, the school year in UNRWA and government schools would not start on 24 August 2014. Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) clearance, damage assessment, repair works and preparation for the new school year – such as class formation – would take longer than the two weeks left before the planned start of the new school year. Children have the right to receive an education, and even in wartime schools must function. With a more permanent ceasefire pending, UNRWA is looking into the possibility of installing TV screens in its shelters so that children can watch UNRWA TV. In keeping with UNRWA’s commitment to provide quality education for all, UNRWA TV offers supplementary educational support that advances the education of children, inspires youth and encourages them to remain hopeful about their future. UNRWA TV provides 16 hours of lessons per day in Mathematics, Arabic, Science and English.
- The resumption of hostilities impeded the roll out of the hygiene and water campaign as initially envisioned. As reported yesterday, UNRWA will complement the hygiene and water campaign with improved surveillance in the emergency shelters to prevent a large scale outbreak of diseases. With prolonged displacement in schools and no end in sight to hostilities, UNRWA’s health department is deploying health teams in each shelter, including a doctor, a nurse, and a health educator. The teams will monitor nine health issues of concern, which include acute bloody diarrhea, watery diarrhea, typhoid fever, mumps, measles, scabies, impetigo, acute flaccid paralysis and viral meningitis. They will also provide health education to the displaced in shelters. Further, UNRWA’s Monitoring and Evaluation Team will monitor conditions in the shelters.
- The resumption of hostilities also impeded UNMAS from clearing UNRWA installations of unexploded ordnances (UXO). Throughout 8 August, teams could not deploy to installations. There are 74 UNRWA installations to be inspected and 17 have been cleared so far. Continued military activity might require some installations to be revisited again, thus delaying damage assessment by UNRWA engineers. UNRWA cannot assess damage to shelters until there is a permanent ceasefire.
- Rescue and medical teams continued recovering bodies. The cumulative death toll among Palestinians stands at 1,939, with 17 new fatalities reported. As of 8 August 2014, and according to information provided by the Ministry of Health, the cumulative number of injured has reached 9,842.
Past 24 hours: In a statement, the UN Secretary-General expressed his deep disappointment that the parties were unable to agree to an extension of the ceasefire in their talks in Cairo. He condemned the renewed rocket fire towards Israel, stating that more suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict was intolerable.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement to the media: "We have not yet received a document with the Israeli answer to our demands. Just yesterday, we received a memorandum of understanding from the Egyptian side, and this document did not respond to any of our requests - the airport, the sea port, the buffer zone, the expansion of the fishing area, etc. There was also no explicit mention of the lifting of the siege. (…) We think Israel is dragging its feet. They did not respond to our demands and has not done a thing to show that there is a reason to extend the cease-fire. Now all options are open. (…) However, the door to continued conversations is not closed. The decision to comply with our requirements is in Israeli hands."
Mohammed Saeed Aaraisha, one of many UNRWA’s sanitation
laborers who come to work at the risk of losing their lives.
Sanitation is among the crucial services UNRWA provides to Palestine refugees in Gaza. UNRWA employs almost 730 sanitation laborers, including more than 450 Palestinians under the Agency’s Job Creation Programme. They are responsible for cleaning the streets and alleyways in 8 refugee camps, removing hundreds of tonnes of garbage per day and maintaining a healthy living environment in the camps.
Khalil Balata, living in the Beach refugee camp in Gaza, is one of them. Khalil and his family had to evacuate their home due to heavy bombings in their area. He is committed to fulfilling his duties as best as possible, even during these difficult times. Khalil believes that, despite the grave situation and danger facing him on the streets during the conflict, and his family's fear for his life and their own, he has to continue working. “Keeping the camps clean is important. Otherwise there is potential for disease to spread in the area. As sanitation laborers we do all we can to keep the area clean and our people safe from health issues," said Khalil.
One of Khalil’s colleagues is Mohammed Saeed Aaraisha who lives with his family of ten in Beach refugee camp as well. Mohammed's house sustained damages due to the bombing of a neighboring home. His children were injured. Mohammed continues to work as much as security allows, despite the imminent danger. "I leave my family ever day to go to work despite the situation. I remind myself that my people need me too. I can't leave them in such a time of crisis."
- Over the reporting period, UNRWA delivered 33 truckloads of non food items (mattresses, diapers, plastic buckets, family hygiene kits, torches, mattresses and cleaning supplies) as well as 105 truckloads of food to shelters. Food to shelters is provided in cooperation with WFP. The provision of bread in particular is a daily challenge, with the numbers of IDPs in UNRWA shelters fluctuating and bread being transferred from East Jerusalem or the West Bank through the Kerem Shalom crossing, the only functioning commercial crossing with Israel.
- UNRWA, in cooperation with partners and donors, continued to distribute both potable and non-potable water to UNRWA emergency shelters and 8 government shelters in the North. Due to the momentary reduction in IDP numbers during the 72 hour ceasefire as well as an increase in water suppliers throughout the Gaza Strip, UNRWA distributed 3 liters of potable water per person per day. However, as the ceasefire came to an end, Palestinians are returning to UNRWA shelters and water needs are on the rise, and UNRWA is working again to increase service providers to meet the needs. Over the reporting period, 560 cubic meters of potable water were trucked to UNRWA shelters, excluding bottled water supplied through partners to shelters where no sufficient water supply was provided through trucks. 672 cubic meters of non-potable water was trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and contractors to the UNRWA shelters. Some shelters benefit from UNRWA wells and municipal water sources.
- UNRWA also continued working with UN partners and local NGOs, including for example the Sharek Youth Forum, to provide psychological and psychosocial support to adults and children. So far, UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Programme has served over 86,000 parents and engaged over 95,000 children in recreational activities. In addition to UNRWA interventions, the Agency’s partner organization provided support to over 10,600 displaced adults and to over 63,000 children.
- Regular health services and food distribution did not occur during this period due to it being a Friday.
- UNRWA is hoping to reopen all 12 food distribution centers, including the remaining closed center in Beit Hanoun, soon. Throughout the war, UNRWA has distributed food to the current caseload of over 830,000 people. Distribution centers are open six days a week, with the exception of Friday when food commodities are moved to the centers for the following week.
Summary of Major Incidents
Reportedly, there were 71 rockets and 11 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 107 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 5 navy shells. 25 tank shells were fired into populated areas. Reportedly, 14 houses were bombarded.
UNRWA estimates that 97 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014. Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification.
More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here.
- The Rafah crossing was open for foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians.
- The Erez crossing was exceptionally open for humanitarian cases and international staff.
- The Kerem Shalom crossing was exceptionally open until 12:00hrs.