UNRWA Situation Report #74 on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

All information from 4–5 February 2024, is valid as of 5 February 2024 at 22:30 

Days 121-122 of Hostilities  


 

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Key Points  

The Gaza Strip 

  • Intense fighting in/around Khan Younis (southwest of Gaza) over the last 15 days is causing loss of life and damage to civilian infrastructure, including UNRWA’s largest shelter in the southern area, the Khan Younis Training Centre (KYTC). This is forcing thousands of Palestinians to flee further south towards Rafah, which is severely overcrowded, with reports of Israeli Forces’ strikes in Rafah on 4-5 February.
  • According to OCHA, the Israeli military has re-issued evacuation orders for Khan Younis and Gaza governorate residents. As of December both these areas contained 210 shelters hosting over 770,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).  Evacuation orders will undoubtedly put households in further precarious situation, pushing additional people to Rafah which is currently hosting up to five times its population prior to 7 October. 
  • On 5 February, an UNRWA food convoy waiting to move into northern Gaza was directly hit by Israeli naval gunfire.  UNRWA sends notifications about all aid convoys and coordinates all movements with the Israeli Authorities; however, aid convoys continue to come under fire. Delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid becomes incredibly difficult under these circumstances and safe and sustainable access is urgently needed everywhere including to the north of Gaza.   
  • As of 5 February, the total number of UNRWA colleagues killed since the beginning of hostilities is now 154, an increase of two since the last situation report.
  • As of 5 February, up to 1.7 million* people (over 75 per cent of the population) ** have been displaced across the Gaza Strip, some multiple times.*** Families are forced to move repeatedly in search of safety. Following intense Israeli bombardments and fighting in Khan Younis and the Middle Area in recent days, a significant number of displaced people have moved further south. 

 

*This includes 1 million individuals residing in or near emergency shelters or informal shelters. As of October 12, approximately 160,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were recorded in north Gaza and Gaza governorates. The ability of UNRWA to provide humanitarian support and updated data in these areas has been severely restricted. The ongoing hostilities, evacuation orders issued by Israeli Forces, and the constant need for safer locations have resulted in people being displaced multiple times.

**UNRWA has reported in Situation Report 64 that up to 1.9 million IDPs are either residing in 154 UNRWA shelters or near these shelters. Due to the continued escalation of fighting and evacuation orders, some households have moved away from the shelters where they were initially registered.

*** There are instances where the same IDPs are registered in multiple shelters due to the fluid movement of populations; hereafter, estimates are used for these shelters. UNRWA plans to conduct a more accurate count of IDPs in shelters, including informal shelters, as soon as the security situation allows. 

 

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem 

Several Israeli Security Forces (ISF) search and arrest operations leading to confrontations with Palestinians occurred between 1-5 February. 

 

On 1 February, the following ISF search and arrest operations occurred:

  • Continuation of ISF search and arrest operation from 31 January, in Tubas, northern West Bank. Two Palestinians were injured with live ammunition as a result of clashes between ISF and Palestinians.  
  • ISF conducted a search and arrest operation in Ein el-Sultan refugee camp, central West Bank. ISF reportedly assaulted three Palestinian women. ISF also reportedly assaulted, injured and detained a Palestinian child and detained two other Palestinians. 
  • ISF arrested twenty-seven Palestinians during a search and arrest operation in Hussan, central West Bank. 
  • In the morning, four UNRWA staff members traveling in an UNRWA vehicle were stopped by ISF at Ein Siniya area, central West Bank. ISF soldiers reportedly asked them for their identification, took pictures of their faces and of the vehicle then searched the vehicle.
  • A Palestinian vehicle allegedly attempted to ram ISF soldiers near Al Muhawel area in Hebron, northern West Bank. ISF reportedly opened fire at the vehicle injuring one Palestinian with live ammunition. 
  • ISF conducted a search and arrest operation in Husan, southern West Bank. ISF closed all entrances to the village and denied Palestinians access.  
  • At night, an ISF vehicle reportedly rammed a Palestinian vehicle during a search and arrest operation in in Araba, northern West Bank. Two Palestinians were reported injured.  
  • ISF conducted a search and arrest operation in Kafr al Labad, northern West Bank. One Palestinian was injured with live ammunition during the clashes between ISF and Palestinians.  
  • Overnight from 1 February  to 2 February, ISF arrested eleven Palestinians, including a minor, during a search and arrest operation in Baqat al Hatab, northern West Bank.  
  • Overnight from 1 February  to 2 February, ISF arrested three Palestinians during a search and arrest operation in Jenin city, northern West Bank.  

 

On 2 February, the following ISF search and arrest operations occurred:

  • ISF opened fire during clashes with Palestinians in Qusra, northern West Bank. One Palestinian was reported injured with live ammunition. 
  • ISF conducted a search and arrest operation in Hajja, northern West Bank. Two Palestinians were reported injured during the clashes between ISF and Palestinians. 

 

On 3 February, the following ISF search and arrest operations occurred:

  • ISF opened fire in clashes with Palestinians during a search and arrest operation in Beita, northern West Bank. Four Palestinians were detained and six others suffered from tear gas inhalation. 

 

On 4 February, the following ISF search and arrest operations occurred:

  • ISF conducted a search and arrest operation in Balata, northern West Bank. ISF under-cover troops reportedly surrounded several Palestinian houses. An exchange of fire took place during the clashes. Two Palestinians were reported injured, one Palestinian was detained, and a four-year-old Palestinian boy was injured by an ISF dog. 
  • ISF conducted a search and arrest operation in Sarra, northern West Bank. One Palestinian was reported injured with live ammunition as a result of the clashes between ISF and Palestinians. 
  • Five Palestinians were detained during a search and arrest operation in Tulkarm city, northern West Bank.
  • ISF opened fire during clashes with Palestinians in Qaffin, northern West Bank. One Palestinian was reported injured with live ammunition. 
  • A Palestinian child allegedly attempted to stab ISF soldiers at the entrance of Ma’ale Adumim settlement, southern West Bank. ISF reportedly shot and killed him.   

On 5 February around 200 Israelis demonstrated outside the UNRWA WBFO compound in Sheikh Jarrah (East Jerusalem), calling for the removal of the Agency from Jerusalem.

A displaced Palestinian child on a rainy and cold day in the Gaza Strip, February 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Ashraf Amra
A displaced Palestinian child on a rainy and cold day in the Gaza Strip, February 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Ashraf Amra

 

Overall Situation 

The Gaza Strip

  • According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza as of 4 February, at least 27,478 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since 7 October. About 70 per cent of those killed are reported to be women and children. Another 66,835 Palestinians have been reportedly injured. 

 

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem

  • According to OCHA, between 7 October 2023–5 February 2024, 373 Palestinians, including 95 children, have been killed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. 
  • Last year (2023) was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the UN began recording casualties in 2005.

Humanitarian Access, Protection of Civilians 

The Gaza Strip

Please see below the incidents for the period 4-5 February 2024, noting that some occurred earlier but information only became available during the reporting period:

  • UNRWA is working to verify the details of incidents reportedly affecting UNRWA premises. Further information will be provided once it becomes available. 
  • Different incidents have been reported impacting UNRWA installations and internally displaced people (IDPs) sheltering there. While verification of details and casualty figures remain ongoing, initial reports indicate:
  1. On 31 January, a 10-year-old boy was killed and four IDPs were injured inside a school in Khan Younis reportedly as a result of the shooting incident. Approximately 1,700 IDPs were reportedly sheltering in the school at the time.
  2. On 31 January, the roof and external metal wall of a rented store in Rafah (containing UNRWA’s rented cold chain facilities used for insulins, vaccines and WHO cold items), sustained minor collateral damages due to a strike on a car and an animal cart in front of the site.
  3. On 3 February, one IDP child was shot and killed inside the schoolyard of a school in Khan Younis.
  4. On 3 February, an UNRWA contracted personnel employed as cleaner at a school in Khan Younis was shot and killed inside his tent located in the schoolyard. An IDF sniper reportedly fired multiple bullets, hitting a man in the head and body.
  5. On 5 February, a 55-year-old male IDP was shot by IDF in a school in Khan Younis. The ambulance was unable to access the school and subsequently the man died. 
  6. On 5 February, naval gunfire purportedly coming from Israeli forces hit one of the trucks carrying humanitarian food assistance bound for Gaza City. The projectile impacted the last truck in the convoy resulting in damages in the vicinity of Western Nuseirat area. All UNRWA personnel including partner staff who were in the convoy were accounted for and safe. However, the trucks did not reach the intended destination and food assistance could not be distributed in Gaza City, where the population is facing very high levels of acute food insecurity and is unable to access life-saving humanitarian aid. UNRWA carried out the last food distribution in the north of Wadi Gaza on 23 January 2024.
  7. On 5 February, two IDPs sheltering at a school in Khan Younis were reportedly shot by IDF snipers. The two IDPs were transferred to the hospital by other IDPs but later died.
  8. On 5 February, six IDPs were killed and two were injured in a school in Khan Younis as a result of ISF opening fire toward the school and ISF snipers shooting.
  9. On 5 February, three IDPs sheltering in a school in Khan Younis were injured as a result of ISF opening fire towards the school.
  • 290* incidents impacting UNRWA premises and the people inside them have been reported since the beginning of the war (some with multiple incidents impacting the same location), including at least 28 incidents of military use and/or interference at UNRWA premises. 150 different UNRWA installations have been impacted.  
  • UNRWA estimates that in total at least 389* IDPs sheltering in UNRWA shelters have been killed and at least a further 1,374* injured since the start of the war. UNRWA is still verifying the number of casualties caused by incidents that impacted its installations, and notes that these figures do not include some reported casualties where the number of injuries could not be determined. 

* numbers are subject to change once further verifications have been conducted.

UNRWA Response  

The Gaza Strip  

Due to the security situation in combination with interruptions in internet connectivity we are unable to provide any additional updates since Sitrep 72.  

UNRWA Shelters 

  • As of 5 February, in total, nearly 1.7 million displaced people are now sheltering across emergency shelters (UNRWA and public shelters), informal sites or in close vicinity to UNRWA shelters and distribution sites and within host communities. 

 

Due to the security situation and ISF evacuation orders, between 150-155 UNRWA installations continue to shelter IDPs.  Shelters are very congested.   

 

Health 

As of 31 January, only four (out of 22) UNRWA health centres were operational following the closure of two health centres in Khan Younis due to the Israel military operations. The remaining health centres are located in Rafah and Middle Areas.

293 health care staff remain working in the four operational health centres and on 31 January provided 6,836 medical consultations.

A further 9,141 medical consultations were conducted by staff at shelters, and at the newly established medical points in Mawasi area to serve an influx of displaced population from Khan Younis, where the total registered population is currently 180,000. 

 

Psychosocial support (PSS)

UNRWA continues to provide Psychosocial support services including, psychosocial first aid services, PSS consultations and intervention sessions, sessions to handing psychological fatigue and group and recreational activities.  Since the war, over 100,000 IDPs have been supported. 

 

Food Security

  • UNRWA continued to distribute flour outside of shelters in the southern governorates. A total of 359,054 families have been reached so far.       

 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Due to the security situation in combination with internet connectivity we are unable to provide any additional updates since sitrep 67. 


Quote from Suma, a mother of six who lost her husband, now sheltering in an UNRWA school in Nuseirat: 

“Tragedy follows us wherever we go. I am now alone in the school, bearing the responsibility of my children, protecting them from the death that pursues us everywhere, feeding them, warming them, compensating for their father. […] The most important thing now is to survive this death.”

 

#HearTheirVoices  

 

ENDs -  


 

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A displaced Palestinian child on a rainy and cold day in the Gaza Strip, February 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Ashraf Amra