22 July 2014 | Issue No. 14
On 7 July, UNRWA declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip in response to escalating violence between Israel and Hamas. Since then, civilian displacement and fatalities have risen sharply. The total number of Palestinian deaths currently stands at 582. The number of displaced into UNRWA schools is now double the peak number from the 2008/9 conflict, and now exceeds 102,000 in 68 schools. UNRWA has already had to revise its emergency flash appeal to US$ 115 million to respond to the dramatically increased humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.
Past 24 hours: Serious concerns were raised over the past 24 hours regarding respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL). UNRWA strongly condemns an attack on an UNRWA school in Maghazi sheltering approximately 1,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and operating as a designated emergency shelter. The shelter was struck by explosive ordnance believed to have been fired by Israel, which injured one IDP. Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir El Baleh was also reportedly shelled, killing five people, including two doctors, and wounding at least 70. These incidents represent distinct breaches of IHL and come as the international community is increasingly expressing concern with the high numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza. UNRWA reiterates calls made by the international community for full respect for IHL, including full respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack during the conduct of hostilities.
The number of Palestinians killed in the conflict passed 500 today. In the past 24- hour period, 107 Palestinians were killed, including 22 women and 22 children. Devastatingly, the bodies of 12 members of one family, all children, were removed from the rubble of a building in Bani Suhaila, Khan Younis on 21 July. At least 3,720 Palestinians were injured during this 24-hour period. Nine Israeli soldiers were reportedly killed during this period, with international media reporting that the Israeli death toll currently stands at 29, including 2 civilians.
With an ongoing and intensifying ground operation, levels of displacement continue to grow. In the past 24 hours, almost 18,000 additional people sought refuge in UNRWA shelters, bringing the total number of IDPs in UNRWA shelters to 102,788. This figure represents about 6 per cent of Gaza’s total population. As of 22 July, IDPs are being housed in 68 UNRWA shelters, with shelters in Beit Hanoun and Maghzai having been closed and IDPs moved to other shelters during this period due to heavy fighting.
Despite the sharp increase in displacement over the past 24 hours, UNRWA, in partnership with WFP, was able to provide basic food to every IDP who presented themselves at UNRWA shelters. The food basket provided in UNRWA shelters was today diversified to include bread, cans of tuna, canned meat, cream cheese and vegetables. 12 truckloads of Non Food Items (NFIs) were delivered to shelters in this 24-hour period.
While responding to the urgent needs of displaced Gazans, UNRWA has continued its regular operations to the degree that security has permitted. On 21 July, 13 out of 21 UNRWA Health Centers were open and 6,783 patients presented at UNRWA Health Centers across the Gaza Strip, including 505 children. UNRWA sanitation workers have continued to collect solid waste from UNRWA Camps and shelters. On 21 July, 351 Sanitation Laborers reported to work in all but three areas of the Gaza Strip (Bureij, Maghazi and Deir El Baleh were inaccessible due to heavy fighting and access restrictions); and removed 201 tones of solid waste.
On 21 July, an airlift of urgent humanitarian supplies from International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) landed at Marka International Airport, Jordan. Under the direction of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the airlift included 45,000 mattresses, 10,000 blankets and 220 hygiene kits; and is currently being transported to Gaza. This generous donation is welcomed by UNRWA and will be of great help in providing urgently needed supplies to UNRWA shelters which are under enormous pressure. The IHC has also coordinated for further airlifts of humanitarian supplies to Gaza, including jerry cans, sleeping mats, blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits and kitchen sets. As highlighted by UNRWA Commissioner- General, Pierre Krähenbühl, this support “is one of the best examples of how effective humanitarians can be when working together”.
International efforts continue to bring about a peaceful resolution to the current conflict. UN Secretary- General, Ban Ki-Moon, speaking from Cairo on 21 July, stressed once again that “the violence must stop - it must stop now” and described Gaza as “an open wound”. The Secretary- General recognized that “going back to the status quo ante won’t solve the problem; it will defer it for another day”. For a sustainable peace to be maintained, a long term solution is needed to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which is compounding the devastating effects of years of blockade and isolation of Gaza. UNRWA reiterates calls from the international community both for a cessation in hostilities and an end to the crippling blockade on Gaza.
Regular sanitation operations continue, with 351 sanitation workers reporting for work in all but 3 areas of the Gaza Strip. Maghazi, Bureij and Deir El Baleh were inaccessible due to heavy fighting and access restrictions.
Reportedly, there were 205 rockets and 51 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 183 missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 233 navy shells and 963 tank shells. Reportedly, 66 houses were bombarded.
For the first time in this conflict, an UNRWA staff member, a female teacher, has been confirmed to have been killed.
A total of 77 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June 2014.
In the past 24 hours, two UNRWA installations were damaged – one school in Beit Hanoun and one in Maghazi.
On 17 July, UNRWA launched an emergency flash appeal for US$ 60 million to respond to the urgent and pressing humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, including the thousands who have already fled their homes to seek safety in UNRWA facilities. This funding was to enable UNRWA to respond to the immediate shelter, food, health and psychosocial needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), while replenishing emergency supplies and preparing for vital interventions necessary after a cessation of military activities. The emergency response phase was expected to last for one month, and the early recovery a further three to six months.
Based on the escalating number of IDPs and further destruction of shelters, a revised appeal was released on 22 July, for an additional US$ 55 million. UNRWA now estimates that US$ 115 million is needed to provide emergency assistance to 150,000 people through its shelters- where food, NFI and psychosocial support are provided- and through health and social service facilities available to those not taking refuge in UNRWA shelters. This funding will also allow UNRWA to start early recovery activities once hostilities cease.
More information on the appeal can be found by here.