21 August 2014 | Issue No. 44
The number of IDPs seeking refuge in UNRWA schools is unprecedented: 279,389 IDPs in 83 UNRWA schools.
UNRWA is providing assistance to almost 314,000 IDPs staying in UNRWA schools and in 7 government shelters in the North.
Past 24 hours: The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the return to hostilities in Gaza. Speaking to reporters on 20 August, the current president of the Security Council, United Kingdom's Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, said that “the members of the Security Council expressed grave concern regarding the loss of civilian lives and casualties. The members of the Security Council offered full support to the Egyptian initiative and called upon the parties to resume negotiations to urgently reach a sustainable and lasting ceasefire.
UNRWA staff in Gaza face the same dangers and losses as the people they are serving. Staff have lost colleagues, family members and friends, had their homes destroyed and their lives devastated.
Over the course of the military escalation, at least 475 children are reported to have been killed. One of UNRWA’s staff members, Amjad Oweida, lost two of his children under particularly tragic circumstances. On 4 August, his daughter Amal, 5 years old, and his son Mohammed, 12 years old, were killed in an airstrike in Rafah. The children had insisted to leave their temporary refuge to return home to feed the doves left behind.
Two weeks after his tragic loss, the 42-year old described the moment that scarred his life forever: “I did not know what was happening. I heard the explosion but thought a neighbor's home was hit. People were screaming. We run out of the house. Then I looked around and saw that two of my five children were missing. I ran back when I saw my brother holding my son Mohammed in his arms. He was barely breathing. At that moment my mind froze. I couldn't understand what I saw. I felt completely paralyzed.”
He frantically continued the search for his daughter and found her dead, burnt almost beyond recognition amidst the rubble. “My children were only trying to feed their doves. That’s all. I could not believe that all that was left of my beautiful daughter was something black. I picked up her body and we ran to the hospital. My son died as soon as we arrived.”
Mr. Oweida returned to work immediately to serve the displaced sheltered in his school, UNRWA’s Preparatory Boys School A in Rafah, where he normally works as a secretary. In the shelter he ensures that all 3,400 displaced get their daily food rations. “Here are people that need me too”, he said.
SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS
Reportedly, there were 171 rockets and 68 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 118 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 15 navy shells. 70 tank shells were fired from the fence into populated areas. Reportedly, 23 houses were bombarded.
Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 109 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.