9 February – 16 February | Issue 131
Operational environment: A number of protests, sit-ins and demonstrations were reported between 9 and 16 February. This included demonstrations regarding demands for shelter support from UNRWA and/or UNSCO, protests against a decrease of UNRWA hospitalization services in Lebanon and demands for job opportunities through UNRWA. Palestinian doctors also held a sit-in at Abu Mazen Square, west of Gaza City demanding their entitlements from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Several protests were held in solidarity with the West Bank journalist, Mohammed Al Qeeq, whose hunger strike and detainment has been widely reported in the media.
A number of deaths were recorded during the reporting week. On 11 February, an 11 year old boy died of wounds sustained in a previous conflict, when his home was targeted by an Israeli missile west of Gaza city. On 14 February, a 50 year old Palestinian male was found shot dead on a farm south of Nuseirat refugee camp. The reported reason behind the incident was family revenge. The police are reportedly investigating. On the same day, a Palestinian male reportedly attempted suicide by burning himself in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. The police reportedly intervened, however the background of the incident remains unclear. Earlier in the week, on 12 February, a 20 year old Palestinian male reportedly attempted to commit suicide by using fuel, at Bani Suhaila junction. He sustained severe burns. Earlier in the week, on 10 February, a 36 year old Palestinian male from Khan Younis City reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his workplace in Nuseirat camp. On 11 February, a male aged 18 years old was found hanged. The background of the incidents is unclear. Police opened investigations.
Several fires were reported during the week. On 11 February, a fire started inside a house in Al Sabra area, south of Gaza city, reportedly due to misuse of a gas cylinder. Civil Defense arrived and controlled the fire. The house sustained damages but no injuries were reported. On 14 February, a fire started inside a house in Khuza’a area, reportedly due to electrical malfunction. Civil Defense arrived and controlled the fire. The house sustained damages but no injuries were reported.
On 15 February, part of a building at Al Aqsa University branch in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, collapsed. One fatality and twenty-two injuries were reported.
On 9 February, a mortar shell was reportedly found in a bag at Sheja’iyeh junction. The shell was removed by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Police. No injuries were reported. On the same day, unknown persons reportedly detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in front of a billiards venue in Zaitoun area. No injuries were reported but the venue sustained damage. The police opened an investigation into the event.
The UNRWA Inclusive Education Policy reaffirms the Agency’s commitment to the realization of the universal right of all children to an education. Inclusive education is an important pillar of the UNRWA Education Programme in Gaza and is closely linked to its Disability Programme.
In the current school year (2015-2016) there are approximately 10,640 persons (6,409 boys and 4,231 girls) with disabilities studying in UNRWA schools in Gaza. These students live with various major motor, fine motor, visual, hearing, health, speech and other impairments. Nonetheless, they are enthusiastic to learn and participate in traditional schooling.
Special Needs students are encouraged to attend UNRWA schools, and the Inclusive Education approach helps them to integrate into mainstream schooling by providing them with extra support. In cases where more specialized support is needed, the Agency refers students to Community-Based Rehabilitation Centres (CBRCs). UNRWA currently supports seven CBRCs across the Gaza Strip, providing services to persons with disabilities, including educational services, to approximately 800 refugee children. Further, the Agency directly supports 132 visually impaired children through the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre for Visually Impaired in Gaza city. There are also 11 learning support centres in Gaza, each of which provide special services to children in need.
Fourteen year old Moaaz Abu Daher is one of fifteen children with special needs attending an UNRWA school in Deir el Balah. In addition to receiving inclusive teaching methods in the classroom, the students receive psychosocial support and appropriate health and medical resources.
Moaaz is a keen footballer and enjoys playing sports with his friends at school. He also has a prosthetic leg, having had his leg amputated due to bone cancer. He believes his disability will never hinder him in his sports and study.
Some UNRWA students also receive speech therapy lessons at home; their parents are provided with information and awareness on special needs. UNRWA teachers have also been trained on the Inclusive Education approach in order to enable them to identify and respond to the diverse needs of students in a professional manner.
“We try to give the students some stress release activities, such as drawing,” said 46 year old Samir Hamda, a school counsellor. “We also conduct awareness-raising sessions on special needs for parents.”
UNRWA’s approach to inclusive education is aligned with the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, wherein Sustainable Development Goal number four is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” It recognizes that education is essential for the success of all the SDGs.
During the reporting week, Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on an almost daily basis.
On 9 February, militants fired one test rocket from west of Khan Younis towards the sea.
On 12 February, approximately 250 civilians including youth, held a protest near Erez Crossing, expressing their eagerness to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. Some of the participants approached the perimeter fence and reportedly threw stones towards Israeli Forces’ observation posts. Israeli Forces reportedly responded with gunfire and tear gas. No injuries were reported. Also on 12 February, approximately 150 civilian including youth, held a protest east of Sheja’iyeh, northern Gaza, expressing their eagerness to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. Some of the participants approached the perimeter fence near Nahal Oz and reportedly threw stones towards Israeli Forces’ observation posts. Israeli Forces reportedly responded with gunfire and tear gas. One person was injured. On the same day, approximately 70 civilians including youth, held a protest east of Al Bureij Camp, expressing their eagerness to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. Some of the participants approached the perimeter fence and reportedly threw stones towards Israeli Forces’ observation posts. Israeli Forces reportedly responded with gunfire and tear gas. Four persons were injured. Again on 12 February, approximately 50 civilians including youth, held a protest near the perimeter fence east of Al Faraheen area, expressing their eagerness to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. Some of the participants approached the perimeter fence and reportedly threw stones towards observation posts. No injuries were reported.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 81 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 247 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 473 million.
As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2016, the Agency is seeking US$ 403 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt. The Agency requires US$ 355.95 million for programme interventions in Gaza, including US$ 109.7 million for emergency food assistance, US$ 142.3 million for emergency shelter assistance, US$ 60.4 million for emergency cash-for-work assistance, US$ 4.4 million for emergency health/mobile health clinics and US$ 3.1 for education in emergencies.
Read more in the 2016 oPt emergency appeal.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air. Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travelers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travelers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.