2 June - 9 June 2015 | Issue No. 96
The situation in Gaza remains unstable. Regular local protests and demonstrations are now the norm. During the reporting week, most of these were regarding demands for shelter, cash assistance for repairs, protesting against perceived cuts to UNRWA services due to the financial situation and the situation in Gaza more generally.
Internal unrest in Gaza continues to be a concern. On 2 June, armed clashes reportedly erupted between Hamas police and an alleged Salafist member when the police attempted to arrest him from his house in Sheikh Rudwan area, north Gaza City, and he refused to surrender himself. It was reported that the Salafist member was killed. On the evening of 3 June a dispute took place between two families. One was reportedly stabbed to death and two other were injuries. The police arrested several persons.
On 5 June a militant reportedly died and two others were injured when a tunnel collapsed in east of Shejaiya.
On 7 June it was reported that a tunnel under the border between Rafah and Egypt collapsed. Seven Palestinian workers were reportedly trapped.
On 4 June, an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) exploded inside Gaza Seaport. Damages to the properties of the Palestinian fishermen in the area were reported. At approximately 5 am on 8 June, unknown persons detonated an IED near a vehicle for goods distribution in Sheikh Radwan, Gaza City. The Police opened an investigation. No injuries were reported, however there is reportedly some minor damage.
Payments to former de facto government staff who have not seen full salaries for over one year, continues to be a challenge. Whilst Palestinian Authority (PA) staff were regularly paid until November, payments have been partial since that time. On 4 June, the European Union made a contribution of approximately US $22.9 million (€20.3 million) to the payment of May salaries and pensions of around 67,500 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The contribution is being funded by the European Union (US $16.9 million; €15.0 million) and the Governments of Sweden (US $4.8 million;.€4.3 million/SEK 40 million) and of the Netherlands (US $1.1 million; c.€1.0 million earmarked specifically for PA salaries in the justice sector).
The UNRWA Maintenance Office in Jabalia, northern Gaza is full of old blue UNRWA school doors waiting for a makeover, piles of window glass, large white paint buckets and other material necessary to keep UNRWA facilities in good working condition. Standing amidst the material are two 20 year old Palestine refugees - Jamil Jabir and Fares Sani.
The young workers have both successfully completed a 24 month-long vocational training programme for over-aged students (those who have previously failed two or more years in school) in the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre. They were soon after hired by the Agency for a six month Graduate Training Programme (GTP) to further build up their capacities. The GTP is a one-time opportunity and part of the Agency’s cash-for-work Job Creation Programme (JCP); it targets graduates who have completed their vocational education within the last three years.
“We have both already completed five months of our job placement,” said Fares who is employed as a worker in the Maintenance Office. “In one month we will face difficult times; there are so few job opportunities due to the blockade; besides, there is not enough material entering the Strip to allow for more work,” he added.
Fares is the only one in his family who has a job, and like most JCP workers in the Maintenance Office, he is trying to bolster his income with additional occasional jobs in private workshops. He is and will keep trying hard, but says that “opportunities for extra work have become rarer over the past months.”
His friend Jamil, who was trained and works as a painter, has different plans. He is currently studying to repeat the ‘Tawjihi’ – the high school completion certificate which he previously failed. “After that, I want to study engineering in the Palestine University and work as engineer,” he said.
Yet both young men know that dreams can easily be crushed in a place like Gaza, where youth refugee unemployment rates are sky-rocketing and according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, stood at 70.1 per cent in 2014, and at 66.3 per cent for male refugee youth.
“If the situation was different – if we did not have this blockade – I would try to open my own workshop or I would move to another country where I can apply all my skills and build up a business and a life,” said Fares.
“Planning a future is almost impossible for these young workers,” explained Mohammed Yasin, the supervisor of the UNRWA North Maintenance Office. “Before the blockade, people in Gaza did not look only to UNRWA for jobs. They also worked in the bustling private sector and made good businesses. Now the situation is reversed and people are thankful to at least find work for three months,” he added.
The UNRWA JCP is a pivotal instrument to ease the impact of widespread poverty and protracted conflict by providing short-term employment opportunities to refugees. In 2014, the JCP re-expanded by almost 20 per cent, from 17,053 short term job opportunities in 2013 to 20,550 in 2014, thus benefiting almost 120,000 refugees in Gaza; in 2014, in total US$ 18.1 million were injected into the Gaza economy through the JCP. The Gaza Training Centre is complementary to the JCP, as it contributes skilled labour to key sectors of the economy. Since its establishment in 1953 over 17,300 young Gaza refugees have graduated from its trades and technical courses. In 2010 the training centre was reformed and a vocational training component for over-aged students was added; since then, 610 over-aged students have graduated as skilled labourers in a wide-range of fields.
During the reporting week, Israeli forces fired towards Palestinians near the fence with Israel or at Palestinian boats almost on a daily basis.
On 2 June, militants fired one test rocket towards the sea. On 3 June, militants attempted to fire one rocket towards Israel. The rocket dropped short and landed inside Gaza areas near the security fence. On 3 June, militants fired one rocket towards Israel which landed in Ashkelon. No injuries or damages were reported in either incident.
On 4 June, Israeli forces fired five missiles allegedly targeting three separate military sites. No injuries were reported. On 7 June, Israeli forces fired two missiles allegedly targeting a Hamas training site.
On 8 June morning, militants fired one test rocket towards the sea.
On 3 June, four Israeli force bulldozers entered approximately 100 metres south of Sofa, Rafah, southern Gaza. The troops conducted a clearing and excavation operation before withdrawing. On 5 June in Gaza area, Israeli force bulldozers entered approximately 50 meters from the security fence into east Shejaiya. Troops conducted a clearing and excavation operation in the area before withdrawing to the security fence.
US$ 216 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which a total of US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 504 million.
As presented in UNRWA’s oPt Emergency Appeal, the Agency is seeking USD 366.6 million for its 2015 emergency operations in Gaza, including USD 127 million for emergency shelter, repair and collective centre management, USD 105.6 million for emergency food assistance, and USD 68.6 million for emergency cash-for-work. More information can be found here.
Kerem Shalom was open from 2 to 5 June and 7-8 June. It was closed on 6 June.