Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Arabic
Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 August 2012

The Monthly Humanitarian Monitor
August 2012

August overview

A number of developments during the month highlighted the vulnerability of children in the context of the ongoing occupation and violence. August marked the start of the new school year for more than one million Palestinian children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt). However, thousands of Palestinian children continue to face a number of challenges in their access to education, including the chronic lack of classrooms, poor quality facilities, over-crowding and double shifts at many schools, all of which are primarily the result of building restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities. Many children and their teachers also face physical threats and obstacles on their daily journey to school due to armed hostilities (in Gaza and southern Israel), settler violence and checkpoints (in the West Bank). The cumulative impact of these stresses is undermining the educational performance and general development of affected children.

The vulnerability of children was further highlighted by a number of settler attacks during the month in which children were involved as both victims and perpetrators. In perhaps the most serious incident, the fire-bombing of a Palestinian taxi near Bethlehem resulted in the injury of a 4 year old Palestinian girl and her 6 year old brother. Three Israeli settler children, aged

12 to 13, have been detained by the Israeli authorities on suspicion of carrying out this attack. In this and another case this month, the Israeli authorities acted quickly to investigate and detain suspected perpetrators of the attacks. These developments, while welcome, occur in the context of the Israeli authorities’ longstanding failure to adequately protect the Palestinian civilian population from all acts or threats of violence by Israeli settlers, including by maintaining public order in a non-discriminatory manner and holding those responsible for violent attacks accountable.

Forced displacement, a key cause of humanitarian and chronic vulnerability in the oPt, has also continued to impact the lives of Palestinian children. In the Gaza Strip, an assessment conducted this month documented the humanitarian impact of the displacement of 770 Palestinians, including some 400 children, from their homes in a neighborhood of Gaza city on 8 July. The eviction was carried out by the authorities in Gaza on the grounds that the families had settled on ‘state land’. Notwithstanding previous efforts by the authorities to engage in a process of consultation with the affected families regarding their relocation, the implementation of thiseviction in the absence of consent and adequate alternative housing, has raised protection concerns and resulted in heightened vulnerability of many of those affected. In Area C of the West Bank, following a respite during Ramadan, demolitions of homes and property by the Israeli authorities resumed in the second half of August, resulting in the displacement of 45 Palestinians, including 23 children. A number of developments during the month highlighted the vulnerability of children in the context of the ongoing occupation and violence. August marked the start of the new school year for more than one million Palestinian children across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt). However, thousands of Palestinian children continue to face a number of challenges in their access to education, including the chronic lack of classrooms, poor quality facilities, over-crowding and double shifts at many schools, all of which are primarily the result of building restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities. Many children and their teachers also face physical threats and obstacles on their daily journey to school due to armed hostilities (in Gaza and southern Israel), settler violence and checkpoints (in the West Bank). The cumulative impact of these stresses is undermining the educational performance and general development of affected children.

Also this month, the fatal attack in the northern Sinai (Egypt) on 5 August highlighted the fragility of the access conditions in the Gaza Strip. As a result of Israel’s ongoing blockade, the Rafah Terminal and the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt have become the main channel for the movement of people out of Gaza and the entry of basic construction materials. The informal ‘tunnel industry’ employs thousands of workers, including many children, who are exposed to death and injury on a daily basis due to the collapse of tunnels, accidents and airstrikes. Following the attack in Sinai, in which16 Egyptian soldiers were killed, the Egyptian authorities temporarily closed the Terminal and the tunnels. While prior conditions were restored towards the end of the month, this incident illustrated the unpredictable nature of current access arrangements, and their potential impact on people’s livelihoods and access to basic services.

On a positive note, July and August saw record numbers of Palestinians allowed access to East Jerusalem and Israel for the Friday prayers of Ramadan and for family visits. This year the easing meant that almost 820,000 Palestinians were able to pass the Barrier checkpoints into East Jerusalem, twice as many as during Ramadan in 2011, with no major incident of violence being recorded. This positive development brings into question the need for the complex system of restrictions on Palestinian access into East Jerusalem during the remainder of the year.

As evidenced this month, forced displacement, lack of access to education, settler violence and other violations of human rights continue to generate humanitarian needs amongst the Palestinian population. The Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF) is a key tool for humanitarian organizations in their efforts to mitigate and address these needs, enabling them to address the most urgent vulnerabilities. This month the HRF Advisory Board, which is led by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and includes donors, UN agencies and NGOs, approved four projects aimed at addressing humanitarian vulnerability in Area C of the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

VIOLENT ATTACKS BY ISRAELI SETTLERS CONTINUE
Concerns regarding children as victims as well as perpetrators

This month was marked by multiple, serious attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian civilians and their property. Overall in August, OCHA recorded a total of 25 incidents resulting in Palestinian casualties (19 injuries) or property damages. This is below the 2012 monthly average of 31 incidents; however, the severity of many of the attacks, as well as the involvement of children both as victims and as perpetrators, is of particular concern.

Settler violence in the West Bank occurs in a variety of contexts. Some appear to be random acts of violence, while others come as retaliation for the Israeli authorities’ announced or actual evacuation of settlement outposts (i.e. “price tag” attacks) or in the context of settlers’ attempts to take over land and resources. This month witnessed all of these forms.

In one particularly serious incident, in the Bethlehem governorate, a group of settlers threw a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian-plated taxi, setting it on fire and injuring all the passengers, including five members of one family (see box herein). In the Ramallah governorate, Israeli settlers entered Al Jalazun refugee camp and sprayed Hebrew graffiti on a Palestinian house and two cars, and set fire to a third car. The graffiti included slogans such as “Revenge”, “Death to Palestinians”, and “Migron”, in reference to the Israeli authorities’ planned evacuation of the Migron settlement outpost (which was subsequently evacuated on 4 September). In the Nablus governorate, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian family, injuring a mother and two of her sons, in the context of an ongoing attempt to take over a well and historic building located on a parcel of land privately owned by the family.1 The father and another son were arrested by the Israeli military. This same family was featured in the May 2012 issue of the Humanitarian Monitor, after they were temporarily displaced from their home following repeated settler attacks and harassment by Israeli soldiers.2 Member organizations of the Protection Cluster have provided legal aid, protective presence and psychosocial support responses in this case.





In at least two of this month’s instances of settler violence, the Israeli authorities acted quickly to detain those suspected of perpetrating the attacks. According to the Israeli media, the Israeli police detained three settlers, aged 12 and 13 years old, suspected of carrying out the firebomb attack in the Bethlehem governorate.3 Likewise, a group of Israeli youths, including eight children, was indicted for their participation in an attempted lynching in West Jerusalem of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem; Israeli media reports indicated that some of the detainees were settler youths.4 The Israeli authorities’ response in these two cases is an important precedent in the enforcement of the rule of law. If applied consistently, this precedent could have a positive impact; so far, in the large majority of cases, the Israeli authorities have failed to prevent or halt attacks, and the rule of law response after such incidents has frequently been inadequate or poorly conducted.5 This consistent gap in law enforcement has contributed to a culture of impunity that encourages further violence against Palestinian civilians.

Overall in the West Bank, OCHA oPt has identified a total of 110 communities with a population of approximately 315,000 people, as being highly or moderately vulnerable to settler violence.6 Thirty-one (31) percent of the at-risk communities are located in the northern West Bank, 34 percent in the central West Bank and 35 percent in the southern West Bank. OCHA has also identified 24 road junctions and 9 road segments, where movement of Palestinians is likely to be disrupted or blocked by settlers in the context of escalated settler violence (see map).

Settler violence is a priority issue for the Protection Cluster which, working through its members, coordinates legal assistance, protective presence and psychosocial support to Palestinians affected by settler violence, and advocates for Israeli authorities to fulfill their obligations to prevent, protect against and ensure for accountability for these crimes.








PALESTINIAN FAMILY HIT BY FIREBOMB7

On 16 August, a Palestinian family of five from the town of Nahhalin was travelling by taxi on Road 367 towards the Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion. The taxi driver noticed three settlers on the right hand side of the road. A Molotov cocktail thrown by one of the settlers at the car landed in the front, seat between the driver and the front passenger. The car continued moving for 25 meters before stopping. The mother managed to throw her 4-year-old daughter through the window, causing the girl’s arm to break, followed by her 6-year-old son. The other passengers sustained the worst burns, as they were trapped inside the car, caught by their seat belts. Both Palestinian and Israeli ambulances arrived within 10 to 15 minutes and all of the injured were transported to Hadassa Hospital in West Jerusalem.


"It was a night of horror that we are afraid will happen again.8"

8According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) who visited the patients in hospital, their injuries varied from severe to moderate. The father, a 37-year-old construction worker, had the most severe injuries, as he sustained widespread burns to his body. He was hospitalized in the intensive care unit and may suffer permanent brain damage. The mother (30), uncle (27), son and taxi driver (50+) all sustained burns of varying degrees.
The main road linking Nahhalin to Road 60 has been blocked for Palestinian use since 2000. This has forced them to use an alternative road to access Road 60, which runs close to the settlement of Bat Ayin and increases the risk of settlers attacks.

Three families attacked in the middle of the night

At approximately 2 am. on 28 August, a group of 30-40 settlers, accompanied by five to six Israeli soldiers, attacked the house of Mohammed al Foroukh, who lives with his family of nine on the outskirts of Sa’ir (Hebron governorate). Over the course of 10 minutes, the settlers repeatedly banged on the door and windows of the house, shouting and frightening the residents, particularly the children. The attack occurred nearly one year after the death of a settler and his 18-month-old son in a car accident that occurred, according to the Israeli police, after the car was stoned by Palestinians while traveling along Road 60, in the vicinity of Sa’ir.9

During the attack, Mohammad witnessed other settlers spray-painting Hebrew graffiti on the walls of his cousin’s home (see photo) and setting his own and two other cars on fire. The families managed to put the fires out, but all the cars sustained varying degrees of damage. PA forces arrived to the houses that night, and the following day the Israeli police conducted an investigation of the crime scene.


RECORD NUMBER OF PALESTINIANS ALLOWED INTO EAST JERUSALEM AND ISRAEL DURING RAMADAN
Access to the Jordan Valley temporarily eased

During the month of Ramadan, which ended in mid-August, the Israeli authorities implemented a number of relaxation measures that facilitated Palestinian access to East Jerusalem, Israel and the Jordan Valley. While similar measures were adopted in previous years, the scope of those implemented this year with regard to both East Jerusalem and Israel resulted in the largest number of people accessing these areas recorded in the past 12 years.

Palestinians holding West Bank IDs are prohibited from accessing East Jerusalem, unless they obtain a special permit. This prohibition is enforced by the Barrier surrounding the city and the 16 checkpoints erected along it, of which only four are accessible to permit holders. 10 Every year, during Ramadan, special arrangements are put in place to allow a larger number of people from the remainder of the West Bank to attend the Friday prayers. The entire population of the Gaza Strip, however, is excluded.

The main relaxation measure is the lifting of the permit requirements for people within certain age categories. The age criteria announced for this year included both men and women above the age of 40 and children below 13, representing a significant expansion of the exception compared to the previous year.11 In practice, despite the announced age limit, women of all ages were able to access East Jerusalem at most times without permits. Men and women above 16 were eligible for permits, leaving only youth aged 13 to 15 years with no access.. In addition, during the month and the concluding holiday (Eid Al Fitr), Israel issued an exceptionally high number of permits, allowing West Bank ID holders to enter East Jerusalem and Israel for the purpose of “family visits”. Overall, during the month, more than 818,000 Palestinians crossed East Jerusalem checkpoints, more than double the equivalent figure in 2011 (340,000).



DEMOLITIONS-RELATED DISPLACEMENT HALTED DURING RAMADAN, BUT RESUMES SOON AFTER

During the month of Ramadan, no Palestinian civilians were displaced as a result of the demolition of residential structures, although demolition of livelihood-related structures continued. Displacement had resumed, however, by the end of August. During the month, the Israeli authorities demolished 60 Palestinian-owned structures, displacing 45 Palestinians, including 23 children, and affecting the livelihoods of 840 others. Ninety-two per cent (92%) of total demolitions occurred in Area C, with the remainder affecting water-related structures in Area B.


As was the case last year, large shades offering sun protection were installed at the relevant checkpoints, as well as water spray fans for those queuing. In addition, there were two humanitarian lanes at Qalandiya checkpoint, designated for the elderly and those with special needs. Generally, the crossing through the various checkpoints proceeded smoothly, and waiting times did not exceed 20 minutes. However, a number of clashes with Israeli forces were recorded at Qalandiya checkpoint during the month, resulting in the injury of 24 Palestinians, including two children.

Also in the context of the Ramadan easings, the Israeli military opened the Tayasir and Hamara checkpoints in the northern Jordan Valley for all Palestinian private vehicles. Prior to that, only Palestinians residing in the Jordan Valley driving cars also registered there, as well as public transportation, could cross these checkpoints. The current process requires that passengers leave the vehicles, walk through pedestrian lanes, and undergo a search. Both checkpoints were established following the beginning of the second Intifada (2001 and 2002, respectively). It is still unclear whether this new arrangement will be maintained.

Demolished/Displaced on 8 July
At Risk
Houses
102
61
Families
131
75
Individuals
771
450

132 FAMILIES EVICTED BY THE DE-FACTO AUTHORITIES IN GAZA IN JULY
A new assessment raises protection concerns

In August, a humanitarian assessment by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and UN OCHA indicated a number of humanitarian concerns, including protection, stemming from the forced eviction of 132 Palestinian families in July.12 On 8 July, local authorities demolished more than 100 homes in the Abu Amra neighbourhood of Gaza City, displacing approximately 771 families.13 A further 75 families (some 450 individuals) remain in the area and are at risk of future eviction.

The incident follows nearly a decade of negotiations between the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the affected families, aimed at relocating the residents away from the area. Members of the Abu Amra clan are registered refugees from the Beersheba area (now Israel). In 1948, they settled in the current location, on public land (i.e. “state land”) and built their houses/sheds there. In 2003, the LRA reportedly reached an agreement with the families providing for their voluntary relocation to alternative land in the Ash-Sheikh ‘Ijleen neighbourhood (Az-Zaitoun) in the southern part of Gaza City, pending preparation of necessary housing and infrastructure. However, following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the agreement was frozen.

Latest development:
In a court hearing held on 13 September, Gaza’s prosecutor requested the court, on behalf of the LRA, to extend the expired deadline to enable the LRA respond to the petition. The court granted the request and scheduled the next hearing to 23 September.


In late-2011, the LRA began a new round of consultations with the residents. However, given that the alternative site previously offered was, according to the LRA, no longer available, the families were offered two sites in Deir Al Balah (on the former Israeli settlement of Kfar Darom) and Rafah, along with compensation packages ranging from USD 3,000 to 5,000 per family. Only four families reportedly accepted this offer. The refusal by the majority stems, in part, from the proposed sites’ poor location , including security concerns due to the proximity of the sites to the border fence with Israel, as well as the lack of adequate services. While some infrastructure works have been carried out at the proposed relocation sites, at the time of the demolition in July residential accommodation was not available to the families.

Following their eviction, each family received from the local authorities approximately USD 1,000 as “rental assistance”. In practice, as of the end of August, most families were unable to rent apartments and were staying with relatives in the same neighborhood; a few families have erected tents on the site of the demolished homes. UNRWA has provided blankets to most families.

There are concerns regarding the compliance of these evictions with domestic legislation and international human rights legal standards, particularly with respect to the lack of consent from the affected families and the absence of adequate alternative housing for their relocation. The manner in which these evictions were conducted has heightened the vulnerability of the affected families, many of whom are refugees.

In a separate case, on 3 September, the Gaza authorities demolished 18 structures in an agricultural area northwest of Beit Lahyia, on the grounds that they were established without permit on “state land”. Some 25 people were displaced and 75 were otherwise affected.

THE SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS AMIDST A SHORTAGE OF CLASSROOMS
Children in the Gaza Strip, Area C and East Jerusalem among the worst affected

More than one million school children and youth throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt), are enrolled in the new school year which started this month.14 Those living in the Gaza Strip, Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, face particularly serious challenges, including sub-standard school infrastructure and a chronic shortage of classrooms, due to building restrictions; and impeded access to educational facilities due to physical, bureaucratic and other obstacles. These factors often result in a high drop-out rate, low learning achievements and, in some cases, displacement. Military operations and settler violence have also continued to disrupt schooling: during the first six months of 2012, there were 16 documented incidents which resulted in damage to schools or interruption of education, and in some cases, in direct injury to children.15

Gaza Strip

In the Gaza Strip, high demographic growth, hostilities and the continuing blockade have generated enormous infrastructural needs in the education sector. It is estimated that 230 new schools are needed, including 117 for UNRWA, which currently operates 247 schools in the Gaza Strip with 226,500 pupils.16 To make up for the lack of facilities, 80 percent of Government and 93 percent of UNRWA schools operate double shifts, with shorter school hours reducing the learning day and quality of instruction.

SCHOOLING IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL DISRUPTED

Schooling in southern Israel is also interrupted by conflict: on the first day of the new school year in Israel, 28 August, children in Sderot and the western Negev were forced to take refuge in bomb shelters, after three rockets were fired from Gaza by Palestinian armed groups.



The import of basic building materials into Gaza has been severely restricted in the context of Israel’s blockade. Following the easing measures implemented since June 2010, international organizations are allowed to import these materials only after receiving the Israeli authorities’ approval for each specific project. Since then, UNRWA has received approval for the construction of 54 new schools, of which ten are complete and another 29 under construction;17 applications for another 23 schools were submitted to the Israeli authorities and are awaiting approval for an average of 18 months.

Pupils and school staff attending educational facilities located in the access restricted areas (ARAs) in the vicinity of Gaza’s perimeter fence are exposed to safety hazards and impeded access.18 Children and staff can be exposed to fire while attending, or travelling to and from school, with lessons disrupted by clashes between the Israeli army and armed Palestinian militants. The recurrent escalation of violence has resulted in damage to 15 schools since September 2011.

SUPPORTING ACCESS TO EDUCATION

Last year a rapid assessment of protection issues associated with accessing schools identified at least 35 communities with serious protection issues in accessing schools.19 Based on the rapid assessment, 23 communities that reported threats at checkpoints for children on their school commute were prioritized for intervention through a protective presence. In addition to these communities, 12 were prioritized for provision of transport to overcome access and protection concerns pertaining to the school commute. Other communities were identified as experiencing protection concerns on the school commute due to settler violence, other violence or intimidation or proximity to settlement or military areas.


West Bank/Area C

While the impact of violence is less pronounced in the West Bank, the consequences of the ongoing occupation – in particular access restrictions and the demolition of structures in Area C – continue to disrupt schooling and negatively impact the provision of education. The PA Ministry of Education has identified 183 schools, with approximately 50,000 students, as located in vulnerable areas. The majority of these schools are located in Area C, where the restrictive planning regime implemented by the Israeli authorities results in a significant shortage of school infrastructure, and exposes schools to the threat of demolition. At least 37 schools in Area C are currently under threat of demolition, while many pupils are accommodated in tents, caravans or tin shacks. Schools in Area C are often located far from the community they serve, which imposes high transport costs on families and forces children to walk long distances to reach school. Access to school can be hindered by physical obstacles, threats and harassment by settlers. Impeded access is associated with a high drop-out rate, especially after the ninth grade and among girls.

YANOUN CHILDREN STRUGGLE TO ACCESS EDUCATION24

For children in the tiny northern West Bank village of Yanoun, going back to school used to mean a long, sometimes perilous trek to the next town. Yanoun is surrounded on three sides by the settlement of Itamar and its outposts, and the threat of violence is ever-present. “The children used to walk and there were settler attacks, as well as ‘flying checkpoints’ set up by the army,” says village leader Rashed Murrar.

While Yanoun children can attend primary school in their village, those aged 12 and up need to travel about five kilometres to Aqraba to continue their studies. The village’s vulnerable location is a significant barrier to their access to education, sparking fears that parents – especially those of young girls – might simply stop sending their children to school. But this year, Yanoun is benefiting from a new UNICEF-sponsored school bus: says Murrar: “The problems with the settlers are continuing, but it’s much safer for them now in the bus.”


East Jerusalem

The education sector in East Jerusalem is characterized by a lack of basic data concerning the number of pupils; a chronic shortage of classrooms; substandard and unsuitable school facilities; and a high dropout rate. Conflicting calculations by the Jerusalem Education Administration and the Jerusalem Municipality reveals a discrepancy of more than 20,000 in the number of children residing in East Jerusalem and registered in educational institutions.20 Less than half of the student population - 42,500 - attend municipal schools, although Israel’s own domestic law obligates free public education to all children until the age of 18. The remainder attend Waqf, UNRWA , private and ‘recognized but unofficial schools’, which have proliferated as a result of the shortage of classrooms in the municipal system. Although 33 new classrooms were constructed during the past school year, the ongoing shortage of classrooms is estimated to be 1,100.21 Existing classrooms are often unsuitable or substandard, with pupils often accommodated in rented houses which do not meet basic educational and health standards. By the 12th grade the number of children who have dropped out of any educational institution reached 40 per cent.22

With the increasing isolation of East Jerusalem from the remainder of the oPt, teachers and pupils who hold West Bank ID cards face difficulties in accessing schools in East Jerusalem because of permit restrictions, checkpoints and the Barrier. Children with East Jerusalem ID cards living in locations separated from the rest of the city by the Barrier are particularly affected: over half of the students using transportation services (3,414) are residents of Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Barrier, who must pass through a checkpoint on a daily basis to reach their schools.23

ATTACK IN THE SINAI DISRUPTS THE FLOW OF PEOPLE AND GOODS TO/ FROM GAZA
Access conditions in Gaza remain unstable despite a resumption of tunnel activity and the opening of the Rafah Crossing

The decline in the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza via Egypt, following the fatal attack in the northern Sinai, highlights the fragile nature of access conditions in Gaza. On 5 August, unidentified militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at a military post along the Egypt-Gaza-Israel border before being killed by Israeli forces while attempting to attack the Kerem Shalom crossing. Following the attack, Egyptian authorities immediately closed the Rafah crossing, and together with the Hamas authorities, began limiting the movement of goods through the tunnels beneath the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Rafah Crossing remained closed for several days, leading to a temporary halt in the movement of passengers, many of whom are medical patients and students. Most tunnels were also closed, thus limiting the transfer of goods into Gaza via this channel. The majority of the tunnels are used to transfer basic construction materials (primarily cement, steel bars and aggregates), which, in the context of Israel’s blockade, are defined as “dual use” items and restricted through the legitimate crossings. In contrast, the main reason with regard to fuel is that Egyptian fuel, subsidized by the government, is significantly cheaper than Israeli fuel.

On 12 August, the movement of goods through the tunnels resumed and began to increase gradually, to approximately the same level it was prior to the attack. The decline in the volume of construction materials that entered Gaza through the tunnels triggered a 20 to 30 percent rise in the local market prices; however, as the supply began to increase the prices stabilized. Overall, according to the Gazan Ministry of Economy and the Palestinian Federation of Industries, the disruption in tunnel activities during August resulted in a decline of 89 and 69 percent in the volume of steel bars and aggregate transferred to Gaza, respectively, while the volume of cement witnessed only little change compared to the previous month.25 The Kerem Shalom crossing, the sole official entry point for goods into Gaza, which is controlled by Israel, continued to operate normally, except for one day when it was closed for security reasons.

However, despite the temporary disruption in the functioning of tunnels, the volume of fuel transfers increased by almost 25 percent, compared to July (16.1 million liters compared to 12.3 million). Nevertheless, since the attack, the Egyptian authorities discontinued the transferm via the Nitzana crossing with Israel, of fuel donated to Gaza by Qatar.. As a result, the volume of Qatari fuel transferred this month declined by almost 75 percent (from 3 million liters in July to 780,000 liters in August), bringing the total volume being transferred to only 21 percent. To maintain its fuel storage supplies and be able to cope with future shortages, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) operated during the month at an average of 62 percent of its full capacity, increasing power cuts from 8-10 to 10- 12 hours a day throughout the entire Gaza Strip.

On 11 August, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing for passengers returning to Gaza, allowing almost 3,000 people to enter Gaza over the course of three days. Since 14 August, the crossing has remained open in both directions, except during the Eid Al Fitr holiday (18- 21 August). However, only ‘humanitarian cases’, students and foreign passport holders have been allowed to leave Gaza since then. Overall, during the month, the crossing operated for 19 days, compared to a monthly average of 24 days so far in 2012, resulting in a 16 percent decrease in the total volume of passengers, compared with the equivalent figure for July.

The impact of this month’s halt in the movement of people and goods between Gaza and Egypt has remained limited. However, it highlights the Gazan population’s heavy dependence on such movement, due to the access restrictions imposed since June 2007 in the context of the blockade: roughly twice as much aggregate, steel bar and cement enter Gaza via the tunnels compared to Kerem Shalom; without the fuel supply through the tunnels, power cuts would reach as much as 16 hours per day.

RESPONDING TO URGENT HEALTH, WATER AND EDUCATION NEEDS
The Humanitarian Response Fund approved four new projects in August

This month, the Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF) for the oPt approved the funding of four new projects addressing urgent humanitarian needs for a total of US$ 909,300, to be carried out by national and international NGOs. Two projects will target the health-care needs of over 46,000 people, including by improving access of people living in isolated or marginalized communities (Hebron and Bethlehem areas) to primary health care, and by providing patients defined as “social hardship cases” with free medications (Gaza). Another project will assist approximately 9,000 people in herding communities severely affected by water scarcity (Jericho and Ramallah) through the provision of tankered water for human and livestock consumption over the next five months. The fourth project entails the environmentally friendly rehabilitation of three primary schools in Area C of the West Bank, to improve the learning conditions of 240 students.




The HRF was created in August 2007 with the aim of providing an immediate response to unforeseen emergencies and fill gaps until mainstream humanitarian funding is available. It is one of 13 country-level funds currently administered by OCHA in different parts of the world.26 The policy and decision making powers of these funds lie with an Advisory Board, which is chaired by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and includes representatives of all the fund donors, UN agencies, and national and international NGOs. The Advisory Board operates a Review Board, which is responsible for reviewing and approving all project proposals.

Since the beginning of 2012, the HRF has approved a total 18 projects for a total amount of US$ 4,086,100.

These projects provided emergency shelter to families who lost their homes due to demolitions; supported the improvement of housing conditions to mitigate the effect of extreme weather conditions; helped protect children from sewage flood in the Gaza Strip; provided emergency support to fishermen in Gaza Strip whose boats were damaged by the Israeli Navy; rehabilitated greenhouses damaged by a storm in the Gaza Strip; and provided assistance to farmers in the closed areas behind the Barrier in the West Bank, among others. The HRF in the oPt is currently funded by Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

END NOTES
1For details of the incident, see OCHA Weekly Protection of Civilians Report, 15 - 28 August 2012. A recent study conducted by OCHA indicated that in recent years Israeli settlers have taken total or partial control of 56 water springs located mostly on private Palestinian land. See OCHA oPt, “How Dispossession Happens: The takeover of Palestinian water springs by Israeli settlers,” March 2012, available at: http://www. ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_springs_ report_march_2012_english.pdf.
2See pg. 5, May 2012 Humanitarian Monitor, available at: http://www.ochaopt.org/ documents/ocha_opt_the_humanitarian_ monitor_2011_06_22_english.pdf.
3Amihai Attali and Remon Marjieh, “The Suspects who Set the Taxi on Fire are Children aged 12 and 13” Ma’ariv, p. 3.
4See OCHA Weekly Protection of Civilians Report, 15 - 28 August 2012. See also, Isabel Kershner, “Young Israelis Held in Attack on Arabs,” The New York Times, 20 August 2012.
5According to the Israeli NGO Yesh Din, over 90 percent of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in the past six years have been closed without indictment. See http://www. yesh-din.org.
6In assessing the vulnerability of each community the following criteria were taken into account: a) Frequency of violence: has the community been regularly affected by settler violence in the past three years?b) Gravity of violence: has the settler violence led to injuries or extensive property damage in the course of the past three years?c) Isolation of the community: what is the population balance between Palestinians and Israelis in the area of the community, and how far is that community from a main Palestinian population center?
7Case provided by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
8Content of this piece is based on testimony given to OCHA oPt by the heads of the three affected families and their wives on 29 August 2012.
9The incident occurred on 23 September 2011. See OCHA oPt Weekly Protection of Civilian Report, 21-27 September 2011, available at: http://www. ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_protection_ of_civilians_weekly_report_2011_09_30_ english.pdf
10One of the four checkpoints, Shu’fat, is accessible only to permit holders residing in Anata and Shu’fat Refugee Camp.
11In 2011, men above 50 and women above 45 years of age, and boys and girls under 13, were allowed to pass without permits; men between the ages of 45 and 50, and women between 30 and 45 were eligible for special permits
12The assessment is based primarily on first-hand interviews with Abu Amra family members, lawyers, and mukhtars as well as with representatives from the Land Registration Authority and Deir Al Balah municipality.
13Community representatives claimed that total number of structures demolished is 138.
14According to the Ministry of Education Database (2012), 1,129,583 enrolled in school for 2011/2012 school year. Of these 67 per cent in government schools, 34 per cent in UNRWA schools, and 9 per cent in private institutions.
15Eight cases were reported in the West Bank, five in Gaza and one incident in Israel. 11 incidents were perpetrated by the Israeli Security Forces, two by Israeli settlers and 1 by Palestinian armed groups. (Source: MRM database).
16The 117 schools needed by UNRWA would allow the agency to operate all schools on a single shift.
17Of the 15 UNRWA schools already approved but not yet under implementation, all but three are funded and are in the planning/tendering process: the remaining three schools will have funds allocated once issues related to land usage are clarified with the local authorities in Gaza.
18There are seven educational institutions in the Gaza Strip with facilities located within 1,500 meters from the Border fence. These schools accommodate approximately 4,400 pupils, in addition to 250 staff.
19A comprehensive assessment is planned, to determine the full extent of access issues in these areas. It is widely held that many more than the 35 communities identified experience protection issues with the school commute.
20ACRI, Ir Amim, Failed Grade: East Jerusalem’s Failing Educational System, August 2012, p. 4. This discrepancy has far reaching consequences for such measures as the city’s education budget, construction of new classrooms to absorb these children and the scope of unique programs created to fight dropout rates
21Ibid. p. 9.
22Ibid. p. 16.
23Ibid., p.15.
24Information provided by EAPPI.
25In August, 714 tons of steel bars entered Gaza via the tunnels compared to 6,635 tons in July, and 50,200 tons of aggregates entered in August compared to 191,000 tons in July.
26In 2012 OCHA is managing pooled funds in Afghanistan, Colombia, DRC, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, oPt, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe.


Complete document in PDF format (Requires Acrobat Reader)

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter