Gaza situation report, 15 November

15 November 2012

15 November 2012 at 15:00
Gaza

Situational overview

Israeli military operation "Pillar of Defense" continues with Israeli air strikes as well as naval and tank firing across the Gaza Strip. A ground operation has not been launched. Loud explosions are heard on a regular basis all across Gaza. UNRWA staff have shown a readiness to respond should the humanitarian need dictate a response.

Rocket and mortar fire from Gaza continue on a large scale into Southern Israel.

Read more: Emergency in Gaza

The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) celebrates today the anniversary of the declaration of independence by the PLO leader in 1988. The streets in Gaza appear to be almost empty with a very small number of vehicles or people. Shops are mainly closed with the exception of some food stores and bakeries are crowded with civilians stocking up on supplies. It is unclear whether this limited shop opening is due to the holiday or the security situation.

No large-scale displacement has yet been reported and there is not yet any need for the provision of emergency humanitarian assistance. Concern over the availability of fuel for the population has been reported.

Gaza: Facts and figures

  • 1.2 million refugees
  • 8 refugee camps
  • 12,000 staff
  • 245 schools for 225,000 students
  • 21 health centres
  • 12 food distribution centres for more than 800,000 refugees
  • Living under a tightened land and sea blockade since 2007
  • Shattered local economy
  • High youth unemployment leading to extremism

Urgent funding need

  • Food assistance: USD 4.8 million

UNRWA‘s response

UNRWA announced today that all its schools will be closed until further notice. Schools remain a safe place to take shelter should it become necessary.

Despite the holiday, UNRWA health teams are prepared to open health centres for emergency care should that become necessary and are ready to provide emergency response, including establishing temporary or mobile clinics in the eventuality of population displacement. UNRWA‘s main pharmacy and health centres have sufficient medicine and vaccinations in stock. Where possible, health centres will open as scheduled on Saturday.

The Agency has a buffer stock of food commodities and non-food items sufficient for a short-term humanitarian intervention. UNRWA currently distributes food aid to more than 800,000 refugees in Gaza but is facing a funding shortfall of USD 4.8 million which is needed by next week to complete procurement procedures for the distribution of food aid scheduled to take place from January to March 2013. The use of UNRWA‘s buffer stocks will further deplete the availability of food for refugees in 2013, and should it be necessary to distribute food as a result of the current escalation of violence, funding will be urgently needed.

Security

The security situation in Gaza remains critical. Massive air and naval bombardment from Israel across the Gaza Strip and large-scale rocket and mortar fire into Israeli territory is causing Palestinian and Israeli civilian casualties.

Challenges encountered

The Department of Safety and Security and the UN Access team organised a UN/NGO convoy to leave Gaza this morning. At the crossing point the convoy was stopped and forced to return by someone claiming to be from the Hamas Ministry of Interior. Upon co-ordination with the local and Israeli authorities, the convoy was cleared to leave Gaza at 14:30 and was able to depart.

UNRWA casualties

On 15 November at 13:20, an UNRWA Arabic teacher was killed by an air strike in Jabalia.

UNRWA installations

On 14 November at 16:15, an IAF air strike targeted militants located west of UNRWA‘s Khan Younis Preparatory Boys‘ School D, injuring a student and breaking windows. The student was released from hospital last night.

Background Information

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. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

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