14 February –21 February 2017 | issue 182
During the week under review, Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on a daily basis.
Civilians, mostly youth, staged protests near the perimeter fence in different areas of Gaza to express their eagerness to defend Al Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank. When some of them approached the fence and threw stones towards Israeli observation posts, Israeli forces responded with gunfire and teargas. No injuries were reported.
In a very tragic incident, a Palestinian man stabbed his three children to death before committing suicide by setting himself on fire. Three other family members were injured due to the fire. The man reportedly suffered from severe mental health problems.
Two Palestinians were injured as they accidently set off a hand grenade inside their house. A 37-year old male was found dead in his house; the police opened an investigation. Another Palestinian man died due to an electric shock. One Palestinian man was arrested by Israeli forces at Erez crossing while on transit to Israel. Another Palestinian was arrested by Israeli forces when he tried to cross into Israel through the perimeter fence.
Various outbreaks of fire were reported during the week. Fires broke out inside a factory and inside a business company; both buildings sustained severe damage and three persons were injured. Fire also broke out in two different residential areas, once as a result of an explosion inside a house and the other time due to a short circuit. Two persons were injured and the houses sustained damage. Six people were injured when the roof of a building under construction collapsed.
Palestinian militants fired two test rockets towards the sea. No injuries were reported.
On 29 January, the UNRWA communications with communities team, part of the Gaza Field Communications Office, has launched its first comic drawing workshop in cooperation with a Community-Based Organization in Gaza city. Approximately 25 young women from all areas of Gaza are participating in the training which will last for one month and focus on topics such as early marriage and gender-based violence (GBV).
28-year old Mokaram Al-Hegi, a participant of the comic drawing training, said: ”I got married when I was 18 years old; my husband didn’t allow me to complete my studies, and when I got divorced my family prevented me as well. Then I heard about this training from a friend, and I told myself this is a great opportunity to learn something new.”
Comic drawing is a form of story-telling, and through story-telling UNRWA attempts to empower and provide persons (directly affected or others) with a platform and a voice to advocate for change and support inside their community and beyond. After the completion of the training at the end of this month, UNRWA will publish the girls’ comics on social media to make them available to the local and global public.
“I used one of the drawings I did in this workshop to advocate for my right to education with my family; I drew a comic that explains to them the importance of education in girls’ lives, and that it’s a human right. When my father saw my skills in drawing he finally agreed that I can go back to university and study art,” Mokaram added.
The comic drawing workshop is taught by the female Gaza artist Majdal Nateel. At the end of February, each participant will have completed 14 training sessions focusing on basic drawing skills – such as how to express different emotions – as well as how to write a script and tell a story by using only few words. With the drawings, the participants address various issues relevant to their daily lives as girls and women in Gaza, such as the right to education, political participation, early marriage and the roles women play and can play in the community.
“I find comic drawing an easy way to express myself; in few words and with a simple drawing I manage to explain a big idea. Seriously, I feel this training is changing my life,” commented Mokaram emotionally.
Communications with Communities (CwC) is a two-way dialogue between communities and humanitarian organizations. It should enable the communities to meet their different needs, address their vulnerabilities and build on their pre -existing capacities. With the comic drawing workshop, the UNRWA communications office combined CwC with Communications for Development (C4D). C4Dis a social process based on dialogue using a broad range of tools and methods. Through C4D, the UNRWA communications office seeks to empower individual Palestine refugees and their communities, enhance their voices through dialogue, consultation and participation, and help individuals and communities make important decisions to improve and save lives, and increase civic engagement for long lasting change.
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. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 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$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.
As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt.
The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be found here.
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 travellers, 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 travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.