28 February – 4 March 2017 | Issue 184
During the week under review, Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on a daily basis. Two injuries were reported.
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. One injury was reported. Regular protests also took place in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Twenty Israeli bulldozers entered approximately 70 metres into Gaza on several different occasions to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. They withdrew on the same day.
Militants fired four test rockets towards the sea and one rocket towards Israel; the rocket landed in an open area in southern Israel. No injuries or damage were reported. Militants opened fire towards Israeli forces’ tractors near the perimeter fence. No injuries or damage were reported. Israeli forces fired tank shells towards a military observation post of Al Qassam brigades (the military wing of Hamas); no injuries were reported.
Three Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces after they entered Israel through the perimeter fence.
In light of this year’s International Women’s Day theme Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030 (#BeBoldforChange), UNRWA has launched the Gender Equality Champion Award to recognize staff who have made exemplary contributions to advance the Agency’s work towards gender equality.
In 2016, UNRWA recruitment officer Wafa’a Diyab launched the ‘Empowering Human Resources Department’s female staff’ to encourage her colleagues through training, motivation, and information sharing. It is for this initiative that Wafa’a won the Gender Equality Champion Award.
“Due to my hard work and the support from my colleagues and family I became a successful UNRWA senior staff member, and I wish that all my female colleagues would get this support to move ahead and develop a career,” Wafa’a explained, and added: “I started to empower my six female subordinates by delegating important tasks to them and providing them with more responsibilities; I always try to motivate them and increase their self-confidence. Over the months I have noticed how they all improved in their work, and I started to think about doing the same for all other female staff in my department.”
Wafa’a’s initiative now includes various activities ranging from gender-awareness sessions, capacity building and training on different ‘leadership’ topics such as presentation skills, competency-based interview skills, dealing with difficult people, as well as lectures on health, stress release and how to maintain a life-work balance. She also regularly invited other senior female staff to talk about their careers, how they overcame obstacles and what are the most important lessons they learned.
Wafa’a did not impose her initiative top-down, knowing that this way it would not be very effective. “In a first step I held a meeting with my female colleagues to learn about their needs and what they would expect from such an initiative; they came up with many good ideas on how they want to improve their skills. I want to see more women in senior posts, as decision makers. This cannot happen if we don’t empower them.”
Wafa’a’s initiative is still in the pilot phase and so far 20 staff have benefited from it; Wafa’a is planning to extend it throughout all UNRWA programmes in the future. Awards for all UNRWA Gender Equality Champions from all fields of operation will be distributed in a ceremony organized in Amman, Jordan, on 9 March.
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. Read more in the oPt Emergency Appeal for 2017.
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.