13 August 2014 | Issue No. 36
Since the last update, the Protection Cluster recorded 3 additional fatalities, 2 of which were recovered from Khuza’a. According to UN information, the cumulative death toll among Palestinians stands at 1965. 1417 are believed to be civilians, including 459 children and 238 women.
Past 24 hours: The temporary ceasefire in Gaza is holding but unless the underlying causes of the conflict are addressed, another round of violence and vengeance is almost guaranteed, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on 12 August. Speaking to journalists at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, he pointed to a lack of political will as the reason that a durable and sustained ceasefire has not yet been reached. “They have not been listening to the voices of the international community and concerns raised by myself as the Secretary-General and many world leaders in the region and around the world,” he said. “In the name of protecting their own people, they have been letting their people be killed by others. Is that what they have to do?” “This is almost the last chance for them. They have a very limited time,” Mr. Ban noted.
With its villas and palm fringed alleys, the tiny town of Khuza’a used to be one of the very few pleasant green locations in Gaza. Close to the fence with Israel, it was shelled and bombed to ruins over the course of the past five weeks.
Hussam Salem Al-Najjar is one of Khuza’a’s residents. He is married with six children, the eldest being twelve. Standing with his family in the midst of what is left of his home, he describes the days of shelling in Khuza’a. “For hours the bombing would not cease. My family and I gathered with 120 other members of our clan in the house next to us. We were terrified. The children were crying and trembling in fear. None of us believed we will survive”, he says.
Hussam feared the house would collapse and bury all. Wearing only the clothes on their backs, and carrying makeshift white flags, the family ran through tiny alleys covered with rubble towards the home of Hussam’s father close to Khuza’a, which at the time already sheltered some 160 displaced. Hussam says that some of his relatives were killed on the way to their next refuge, but he and his family were lucky enough to survive. Three days later, when hostilities escalated in the neighborhood, all escaped again in different directions, seeking refuge with families and in UNRWA schools.
After being trapped for four days in a home, Rawhia and Mona, also from the Al-Najjar family, finally arrived in an UNRWA shelter. The UNRWA schools, they say, are the only safe places in Gaza. With the fence surrounding Gaza effectively sealed, civilians do not have the option to flee as is usually possible in other humanitarian crises. Also not the residents from Khuza’a, who lived just a couple of hundreds of meters away from Israel.
Nothing to report.
Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 103 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.
More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here.
The Kerem Shalom crossing was open.