09 December – 16 December | Issue 74
UNRWA school buildings continue to serve as Collective Centres for 19,010 IDPs. Under the responsibility of the UNRWA Collective Centre Management Unit (CCMU), UNRWA continues to provide for the essential needs of the displaced, including food (39,784 rations over the reporting period, with WFP continuing to provide bread, milk and beans) to all IDPs in CCs across the Gaza Strip. On 15 December, UNRWA introduced hot meals of chicken & rice. As the days and nights grow cooler in winter, UNRWA will also be providing hot meals of rice and lentils and rice, vegetables and meat. Through its Collective Centres (CCs), UNRWA continued to provide potable water (4 litres per person per day), non-potable water, psychosocial support and participatory hygiene campaigns to promote a healthy living environment in the CCs. A water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training was held on 15 December for all WASH focal points in CCs, and all area and shelter managers. A total number of 40 participants were trained on the Arabic version of sphere standards. Additionally, WASH cross cutting issues such as gender, protection and accountability were introduced to the participants. Last week, 250 IDP hygiene committees were active with a total of 1,550 members. The hygiene team also organized recreational and support activities related to hygiene practices for 3550 children.
Operational environment: There has been no improvement in the security situation in Gaza, with a notable increase in rockets being tested during the reporting period. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded outside the French Cultural Centre on the evening of 12 December, the second blast there in as many months. The Centre was closed at the time. According to media reports, security sources said the blast damaged a wall of the building which also provides consular services for the French government, but no casualties were reported. Flying shrapnel is also believed to have damaged part of the building's interior. On 10 December, two IEDs exploded in front of a Fatah affiliated (Yabus Society) building at Al Awada Square. Severe damage occurred to the gate and the stores of the Society. Two injuries were reported from the adjacent houses in the area. On 13 December, the Islamic Jihad movement organized a rally and held a press conference at Al Saraya junction in Gaza city in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails. Hamas organized several parades during the reporting week to mark the 27th year of its foundation. There is a risk of further civil unrest as the number of demonstrations and sit-ins continue, with demands on UN Agencies to accelerate reconstruction efforts, and the pace of the Government-lead Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism remaining slow. The challenges for the Palestinian government, formally in place since 2 June, remain huge, and include payments to former de facto government staff who have not seen full salaries for over one year. It is reported that a half salary of between NIS 1,000 and NIS 3,500 was paid on 14 and 15 December to all security employees of the former de-facto government who continue to report to work despite being unpaid since November 2013..The payment was announced by the deputy Minister of Finance and was processed through the Palestinian Islamic bank, production bank and the mail offices.
Maher Al Dairi’s family of eleven are Palestine refugees from Sabra neighborhood, Gaza City. They were forced to evacuate their home after it was totally demolished during the conflict. They took refuge at Maher’s brother’s home for a couple of days with their three sons and six daughters, aged 11-21 and then rented an apartment in Sabra neighborhood close to his family home.
Forty-four year old Sara, Maher’s wife, says: “When the Israeli army started to bomb a neighbouring agricultural land, the windows of our house started to fall down and we were forced to evacuate our home without taking any of our belongings. I felt so helpless as we lost everything. It is incredible how we lost so much in such a short time.”
The damage assessment process for the Al Dairi family’s home started in mid-September, when UNRWA social workers visited the shelter to assess the eligibility for a technical assessment. Engineers then followed and visited the shelter at the end of September. The case was processed in coordination between UNRWA’s Relief and Social Services Program (RSSP) and its Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Program (ICIP).
The family was pleased to be found to be eligible for UNRWA’s Transitional Shelter Cash Assistance (TSCA), with a provision of USD 250 per month.
Maher says: “At the beginning of December, I was called by the RSSP Office in Gaza south, to sign the TSCA and reintegration package. I received a much needed amount of 1,000 dollars as TSCA for four months and the 500 dollar reintegration package. I utilized the reintegration package to buy kitchen kits including cooking gas.”
“We were living in a very beautiful house; it was one of the most luxurious in the area. I will continue to live in the rented apartment until I get our home rebuilt,” he added.
UNRWA intends to continue paying TSCA for owners of demolished homes until their homes are reconstructed.
Like many Palestine refugee families in the Strip, the Al Dairi family has no regular income. They rely heavily on the humanitarian assistance they receive from UNRWA. Their children attend UNRWA schools and the family has access to UNRWA's health services. They also receive regular emergency food aid.
Maher Al Dairi has shouldered many worries since the blockade was imposed on the Gaza Strip in 2007, as he used to work in exporting citrus, a job that is no longer viable due to restrictions on exports. Maher says: “I used to earn some 5, 000 shekels a month, but now, I earn nothing. It has become very difficult for me to make my ends meet.”
SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS
During the reporting week, there were a number of incidences of the IDF opening fire towards Palestinians near the fence. On 11 December, militants fired one rocket towards Israel. The rocket dropped short and landed in Palestinian area. No injuries were reported. There were also several reports of militants firing test rockets towards the sea. On 13 December, Egyptian patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats forcing them ashore. On 16 December IDF tanks and bulldozers were reported to have entered Gaza near the borders in Khan Younis and Rafah, in southern Gaza, withdrawing on the same day.
The Agency has concluded assessments of its damaged UNRWA installations, with a total of 118. Repair work is ongoing.
UNRWA is seeking USD 1.6 billion for emergency relief, early recovery and reconstruction priorities in the Gaza Strip. More information can be found here (PDF). The same information is available in Arabic here (PDF).
On 9 December, UNRWA launched the oPt Emergency Appeal in Geneva. For its emergency operations in Gaza, the Agency is seeking USD 366.6 million, including USD 127 million for emergency shelter, repair and collective centre management, USD 105.6 million for emergency food assistance, and USD 68.6 million for emergency cash-for-work. More information can be found here:
Kerem Shalom was open from 9-12 December, and between 14 and 16 December. The crossing was closed on 13 December.