UNRWA Situation Report #92 on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

All information from 17-18 March 2024, is valid as of 18 March 2024 at 22:30 (local time)

Days 163-164 of Hostilities   



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Key Points  

The Gaza Strip 

 
  • Intense Israeli Security Forces (ISF) bombardment from the air, land and sea continued across much of the Gaza Strip, resulting in further civilian casualties, displacement and destruction of civilian infrastructure. ISF airstrikes continue also in heavily populated Rafah in southern Gaza.
  • Famine[1] is imminent in Gaza, especially to isolated populations in northern Gaza, deprived of humanitarian assistance. On 18 March Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) released its latest food security outlook and concluded that up to 1.1 million people in Gaza are facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity. The report highlights the fast-deteriorating food security conditions, including a nearly 80 per cent increase in the number of people facing the highest classification of food insecurity since December, when the initial assessment was conducted. The increase has been triggered by the intensity of hostilities, extremely limited humanitarian access and severe limitations on the supply of goods and basic services.  Nutrition screenings conducted in February by UNICEF and UNRWA show that rates of acute malnutrition among children in northern Gaza and Rafah have nearly doubled since January.  The IPC report also predicts a worsening of malnutrition rates unless aid increases and reaches the most vulnerable and hard to reach populations.
  • The first 17 days of March saw an average of 159 aid trucks per day crossing into the Gaza Strip. This remains well below the operational capacity of both border crossings and the target of 500 per day, with challenges at both Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) and Rafah. Security to manage the crossings has been severely impacted due to the killing of several Palestinian policemen in Israeli airstrikes near the crossings in early February. 
  • As of 16 March, the total number of UNRWA colleagues killed since the beginning of hostilities is 168.
  • As of 18 March, up to 1.7 million* people (over 75 per cent of the population) ** have been displaced across the Gaza Strip, the majority 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 weeks, 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 12 October, approximately 160,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were recorded in UNRWA shelters in Northern Gaza and Gaza City governorates. UNRWA currently estimates that the population of Northern Gaza and Gaza City governorates is up to 250,000 people. 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 ISF, and the constant need for safer locations have resulted in people being displaced multiple times.

**UNRWA reported on 15 January in Situation Report 64 that up to 1.9 million IDPs were 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 

  • Between 14 and 18 March, more than 120 Israeli Security Forces (ISF) search and arrest operations were recorded across the West Bank, with at least 120 Palestinians detained during this period. Two Palestinians were killed.
  • The first Friday of the Holy Month of Ramadan saw worshippers gathering in Jerusalem’s Old City and Al Aqsa mosque for prayers. Thousands of Palestinians were denied access to Jerusalem for not possessing requisite permits. Increased mobile checkpoints and movement restrictions including road closures were also reported in and around Jerusalem. 
  • There were several escalations in Israeli settler violence between 14 and 18 March, particularly concentrated in the central and southern West Bank. In  the central West Bank, early on 15 March settlers opened fire at Palestinians and their sheep at Kafr Ni’ma, burning Palestinian vehicles and land. Two settler attacks were recorded in Sinjil on 14 and 15 March. A new settlement outpost was reported on 17 March on Palestinian land at Al Lubban al Gharbiya. In the southern West Bank, armed settlers physically assaulted Palestinian shepherds in Masafer Yatta on 15 March, damaging crops and injuring a child. 
  • ISF reportedly bulldozed land and uprooted at least 150 olive trees belonging to Palestinians west of Husan, in the southern West Bank, on 18 March.

An UNRWA staff member assesses a child to be severely acutely malnourished, Rafah, Southern Gaza Strip, March 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Muhammad Al-Hinnawi
An UNRWA staff member assesses a child to be severely acutely malnourished, Rafah, Southern Gaza Strip, March 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Muhammad Al-Hinnawi

Overall Situation 

The Gaza Strip

  • According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza as of 18 March, at least 31,726 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 73,792 Palestinians have been reportedly injured. 

 

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem

  • According to OCHA, between 7 October 2023– 18 March 2024, 418 Palestinians, including at least 106 children, have been killed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  Since the beginning of the year, a total of 109 Palestinians have been killed, compared with 80 in the same period in 2023, the majority by ISF.

 

Humanitarian Access, Protection of Civilians 

The Gaza Strip

  • UNRWA is working to verify the details of incidents reportedly affecting its premises. Further information will be provided once it becomes available.
  • One new incident impacting UNRWA installations and internally displaced people (IDPs) sheltering there has been reported. While verification of details and casualty figures remain ongoing, initial reports indicate:
  • [LATE REPORT] On 7 February 2024, (estimated date) at an unknown time, ISF reportedly carried out an air strike that completely destroyed the northern and southern buildings of an UNRWA school in Gaza Town. In addition, several classrooms in the school's eastern building sustained fire damage. The IDF also reportedly excavated the schoolyard. No injuries were reported. 
  • Total numbers are as follows:
    • 349* 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 51 incidents of military use and/or interference at UNRWA premises. 160 different UNRWA installations have been impacted.  
    • UNRWA estimates that in total at least 408* IDPs sheltering in UNRWA shelters have been killed and at least a further 1,406* 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. 

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

UNRWA Response  

The Gaza Strip  

Due to the security situation and limited internet connectivity, we have been unable to provide any additional updates since Sitrep 75, published on 10 February 2024.

UNRWA Shelters 

  • As of 18 March, nearly 1.7 million displaced people are now sheltering across emergency shelters (UNRWA and public shelters), informal sites or in the vicinity of UNRWA shelters and distribution sites and within host communities.  
  

Health 

  • As of 13 March, eight (out of 24) UNRWA health centres were operational. Of those, one is in the north, two are in the Middle Area, two are in Khan Younis and three are in Rafah. These health centres provide primary health care services, including outpatient services, non-communicable disease care, medication, vaccination, antenatal and postnatal health care and dressing for injured patients. 
  • On 13 March, UNRWA built a temporary health centre to provide health services for the people in al-Mawasi, West Khan Younis. 
  • A total of 740 health care staff continue to work in operational health centres and on 13 March they provided 11,876 medical consultations.
  • Another 8,076 medical consultations were conducted by 340 staff at shelters, including at the newly established medical points in al-Mawasi area to serve an influx of displaced persons from Khan Younis. The total registered population in al-Mawasi is currently 377,854.
  • Between 7 October and 13 March, UNRWA provided over 3.2 million medical consultations across its health centres and shelters.
  • As of 13 March, UNRWA provided mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services in the Middle and Khan Younis areas with teams of psychiatrists and supervisors to assist special cases referred from health centres and shelters.  UNRWA teams responded to 1,061 cases in health centres and in medical points through individual consultations, awareness sessions and support for cases of gender-based violence.  UNRWA teams provided medical care for post-natal and high-risk pregnant women to 419 women.  

 

 Psychosocial support (PSS)

  • UNRWA counselors continue to provide psychosocial support services, including psychosocial first aid, PSS consultations, group awareness sessions including sessions on managing psychological fatigue, in addition to implementing recreational activities.
  • In the last week, UNRWA provided 19,278 IDPs, including 12,096 children, with PSS services. Since the onset of the conflict, around 570,000 IDPs have received support, including more than 300,000 children. During the reporting period, UNRWA teams conducted a total of 2,310 sessions/activities bringing the total to 147,893 sessions/activities since the start of the conflict.

 

Food Security

  • As of 13 March, UNRWA continued to distribute flour outside of shelters in the southern governorates. To date, a total of 374,800 families were reached, of whom 164,082 have received two rounds of flour.  

 

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. 


Tweet from Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General:

On the day new data is out on famine in Gaza, the Israeli Authorities deny my entry to Gaza. […] UNRWA has by far the largest presence among all humanitarian organizations in Gaza. My visit today was supposed to coordinate & improve the humanitarian response. This man-made starvation under our watch is a stain on our collective humanity. Too much time was wasted, all land crossings must open now. Famine can be averted with political will.”

 

#HearTheirVoices  

 

ENDs -  


 

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An UNRWA staff member assesses a child to be severely acutely malnourished, Rafah, Southern Gaza Strip, March 2024. © 2024 UNRWA Photo by Muhammad Al-Hinnawi