Gaza Situation Report 225

10 June 2018
school certificates distribution ” © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Khalil Adwan.

22 May – 05 June 2018 | issue 225

Highlights

  • According to WHO, between 30 March and 3 June, 128 Palestinians (113 men, 14 boys and 1 girl) were killed and some 13,900 injured in the context of ‘Great March of Return’ mass demonstrations along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza. Out of this total, 7,548 individuals (54%) required hospitalization, including 3,778 injured by live ammunition. The large number of casualties among largely non-violent Palestinian demonstrators, including a high percentage of demonstrators hit by live ammunition, has raised serious concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli troops.

    Gaza's health sector is struggling to cope with the mass influx of casualties, and there are significant pressures on the 22 UNRWA health centres. At this point, most refugees approach UNRWA health centres for post-operative care, and almost 2,400 injuries - the majority being moderate to severe gunshot injuries – have been treated to date. A further increase in the caseload is expected in the coming weeks as patients are discharged from hospitals and turn to UNRWA for follow-up treatment. In the longer-term, refugees will depend on UNRWA for physiotherapy/rehabilitation assistance, psycho-social counselling and hospitalization support for postponed elective surgeries. Due to this urgent additional and non-budgeted demand, the Agency estimates that it will require in total US$ 10 million for its health response over the next 6 to 12 months.

  • The Gaza Strip faces a worsening humanitarian crisis. The comprehensive land, sea and air blockade imposed by Israel, now in its 12th year, alongside the Palestinian divide and restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on Rafah Crossing, remain the principle causes for further deterioration in the humanitarian and socio-economic situation of Gaza’s almost two million residents.  In violation of Israel’s legal obligations under international law, the severe restrictions on movement of people and goods continue to collectively punish the civilian population, negatively affecting every aspect of life in Gaza and threatening fulfilment of most basic human rights. According to a recent publication by OCHA, Palestinians in Gaza experience on average up to 20 hours daily power outages; they have access to only 72 litres of water per capita per day compared to the100 litres per capita per day as per the World Health Organization minimum standard. In April 2018, 108,000 litre of untreated waste water were released into the sea every day, resulting in a BOD (i.e. Biological Oxygen Demand, an indicator of water pollution levels) of 242mg/litre compared to 60 mg/litre as per international standard. In addition, only 58 per cent of patients’ application to exit Gaza via Israel were approved in Q1/2018 while 42 per cent were delayed/denied. In the same reporting period, overall unemployment levels in Gaza increased to 49.1 per cent; 80 per cent of Gaza’s population depends on humanitarian assistance.

  • After successful completion of the 2017/18 scholastic year, 269,548 UNRWA students (138,713 males and 130,835 females) from grades 1 to 9 in 275 schools received their school certificates and merit certificates on 31 May. While 136,315 students from grades 5 to 9 were assessed during an eight-day examination period at the end of the school year, 133,233 UNRWA students from grades 1 to 4 were directly assessed by their teachers according to the new performance and competency-based assessment and evaluation criteria (Authentic Assessment). Students started the summer vacation immediately after the last exam on 13 May 2018.  The scholastic year 2018/19 is scheduled to begin in late August. During the 2017/18 school year, 8,733 dedicated UNRWA teachers (2,738 males and 5,995 females) facilitated the education of Palestine refugee students in 275 UNRWA schools in all five governorates (11 UNRWA education areas) of the Gaza Strip. Teachers were guided by 263 school principals and 271 deputy school principals. UNRWA sees education as a major investment in dignity, human development and as a means to enhance stability and opportunities for Palestine refugees. Notwithstanding the fragile political situation, lack of infrastructure and increasing financial constraints, providing quality, equitable and inclusive education remains of utmost priority for UNRWA. UNRWA’s leadership is deeply appreciative for the high standards of professionalism and commitment with which education staff continue to serve Palestine refugees.

  • On 27 May, 378 students from the UNRWA Khan Younis Training College (KYTC) started their On-the-Job training (OJT) programme. The OJT for 263 trade students will last for nine weeks while the OJT for 115 semi-professional students, which started on 3 June, will last for five weeks. As part of the KYTC graduation requirements, students undergo OJT period with different Community-Based Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and private companies. The trainings are designed to provide students with initial work experience and with an opportunity to improve their practical skills in order to increase their chances on the local labour market. The KYTC is part of the UNRWA Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme, offering 15 courses of technical and vocational training to Palestine refugee youth in Gaza. Since its establishment in 2007, over 1,186 young refugees have graduated from the college.

  • UNRWA continues to implement a total of 14 infrastructure projects worth US$ 50.48 million, while 21 projects worth US$ 31.37 million are awaiting implementation. In April, UNRWA imported 65 trucks of construction materials included on the list of dual use items such as cement, white cement, steel pipes, steel reinforcement bars, raw materials and elevators for ongoing UNRWA infrastructure projects.

The UNRWA Shelter Update

Activities in May 2018:

Completed cases:

  • 187 reconstruction cases have been completed.
  • 70 families have received their first instalment to start the reconstruction.

Disbursement of payments

  • In total UNRWA disbursed approximately US$ 3.70 million for shelter assistance:
    • For reconstruction: US$ 3,570,231
    • For repair: US$ 121,454

Operational Environment

  • Between 22 May and 3 June, Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip on 15 occasions, forcing them ashore. No injuries were reported. Six boatmen were arrested.

    Between 22 May and 3 June, Israeli forces positioned at the border fence and opened fire towards Palestinian areas on 19 occasions. No injuries were reported.

    Between 22 May and 5 June, civilians, including many youth, continued to participate in a number of protests under the slogan “Great Return March” near the perimeter fence in different areas of Gaza. Israeli forces responded with gunfire and teargas. According to OCHA and WHO, from 30 March until 3 June, 128 Palestinians (113 men, 14 boys and 1 girl) were killed and some 13,900 were injured, including 3,778 by live ammunition gunshots. The total figure of fatalities includes 17 Palestinians (two of them children) killed in unclear circumstances during the 14 May demonstrations, as well as 16 Palestinians (including one child) killed since 30 March in contexts other than demonstrations; among the latter are five people whose bodies are being reportedly withheld by the Israeli authorities.

    Between 23 May and 3 June, Israeli Forces fired 79 missiles targeting militants training locations across the Gaza Strip in response to mortar shells fired by militants.

    On 21 May, a Palestinian was arrested by Israeli authorities at Erez Crossing after being interviewed to get a medical permit to Israel.

    On 26 May, a Palestinian attempted to commit suicide by setting himself on fire in Gaza city.

    On 27 May, a Palestinian attempted to commit suicide by trying to jump from top of a bill-board in Gaza city. 

    On 29 May, The National Committee for “The Great Return March” held a rally at Gaza harbor, west of Gaza city, in support to the set-off of a flotilla of boats to break the sea blockade. Approximately 1,000 persons participated in the event, Israeli patrol boats confiscated the Palestinian boat and arrested 17 Palestinians who were on board. Later on, 16 of them were released and returned to Gaza through Erez crossing.

    On 29 May, unexploded ordnance (UXO) exploded inside a scrap box in Jabalia camp, northern Gaza Strip. Two persons were slightly injured and transferred to the hospital.

UNRWA’s Response

Ghassan Abu Asser: Internally Displaced Person
“Losing home is losing life”
Ghassan Abu-Asser and his family in their rented home in Shejaiya, Eastern Gaza City.  © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi
Ghassan Abu-Asser and his family in their rented home in Shejaiya, Eastern Gaza City. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi

Since 2008, the Gaza Strip has experienced three major escalations of armed conflict which resulted in the internal displacement of significant numbers of people.

In 2014, the coastal enclave witnessed the deadliest hostilities since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967. In addition to the 1,460 Palestinian civilians killed, including 556 children, some 17,800 housing units were destroyed or severely damaged, causing the temporary internal displacement of approximately 100,000 people. In line with UNRWA’s commitment to provide a decent standard of living for Palestine refugees and to mitigate the effects of emergencies on their lives, UNRWA provided these displaced families with rental subsidies to afford dignified transitional shelter until the completion of the reconstruction or repair of their homes.

Ghassan Abu-Asser‘s family house was severely damaged during the 2014 conflict which has left him and 17 family members displaced to this day. 43-year Ghassan and his family were living in Shejaya, East Gaza City, when the 2014 conflict started. As one of the most heavily affected areas of Gaza, most of the Shejaya neighbourhood was rendered uninhabitable. Ghassan’s house was severely damaged; for the past three and a half years, he and his family have lived in a rented house.

“I will never forget the day when my family and I had to leave our house. Our neighbour’s house was attacked and ours was badly affected, so we had to run away to save our lives. Back then, we thought that we would return after a few days.  We didn’t know that we would be displaced for more than three years,” Ghassan explains sadly. “During the conflict we moved from one UNRWA collective centre to another, and when the last one was closed, we started looking for an apartment to rent and that was very hard to us and for many families who lost their homes.”

Shejaya was one of the most heavily affected areas of Gaza during the 2014 hostilities.  © 2014 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi
Shejaya was one of the most heavily affected areas of Gaza during the 2014 hostilities. © 2014 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi

 

Ghassan recalls; “We used to live in a two-storey building with more than eight rooms, now we live in a house of two rooms. Losing home is like losing life.” He adds: “Every month I receive around US$ 250 from UNRWA as rental subsidy payment. For the last three and half years, my life has been unstable and hard. At the end of every month, I feel grateful for the support we receive from UNRWA because without the rental subsidy, our life would have been unbearable. I dream every day and night to be able to reconstruct and return to our house.”

According to OCHA, three and a half years after the ceasefire and as of February 2018, more than 22,000 people (4,162 families) are still displaced, many of whom continue to live in precarious conditions with uncertainty regarding their immediate future.

Funding Needs

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’s emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. Prioritised needs in Gaza in relation to the 2018 oPt Emergency Appeal include US$ 80 million for the distribution of emergency food parcels to almost 1 million people, at least US$ 10 million for creating temporary cash-for-work opportunities through UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme as well as US$ 7 million for the Agency’s Community Mental Health Programme. Furthermore, following the 2014 conflict, US$ 316 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$ 404 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 reconstruction of their demolished homes.

Crossings

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 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.

Crossing

22 May

23 May

24 May

25 May

26 May

27 May

28 May

29 May

30 May

31 May

1 June

2 June

3 June

4 June

Rafah

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Erez

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian and medical cases only

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open for humanitarian and medical cases only.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Kerem Shalom

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Open.

Closed.

Closed.

Open.

Open.

UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
Join the #DignityIsPriceless campaign to stand up #ForPalestineRefugees