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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 May 2004
OFFICE FOR THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS
P.O. Box 38712 East Jerusalem
Phone: (972) 2 – 5829962 / 5825853, Fax: (972) 2 – 5825841
HUMANITARIAN MONITORING REPORT - May 2004
The Humanitarian Monitoring Report is produced monthly by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It draws on information from the Access, Closure and Information System (ACIS), among other data sources that humanitarian agencies have submitted to OCHA. The report is provided to the Task Force on Project Implementation (TFPI) as a basis for discussions with the Government of Israel. It is available on the website (www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt).
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Ms Catherine Bertini as his Personal Humanitarian Envoy to address the humanitarian needs arising from the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict since September 2000. Ms Bertini was requested to assess the nature and scale of the humanitarian needs, and to clarify the respective responsibilities of all actors with regard to humanitarian needs.
The report monitors the humanitarian commitments made by the government of Israel to Ms. Bertini during a mission to the region from 12-19 August 2002. It concluded that there were serious humanitarian problems linked to the ongoing conflict, and specifically, to the measures implemented by the government of Israel to safeguard its citizens from Palestinian attacks.
These security measures, including curfews, closures and roadblocks, led to a crisis of access and mobility, instigating a drastic decline in the Palestinian economy. A large part of the Palestinian population has difficulty accessing basic services such as health and education. Similarly, humanitarian service providers such as UN agencies, NGOs and Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Palestinian Ministry of Health ambulances have experienced providing assistance and services to beneficiaries.
Ambulances will wait no more than 30 minutes at checkpoints
Mechanisms will be set in place to ensure patients seeking critical medical services (child delivery, dialysis, chemotherapy) can quickly pass all checkpoints
Problems relating to water deliveries in Palestinian towns and villages will be addressed to ensure daily provision of adequate volume can be supplied by Palestinian water tankers
Facilitation of International Humanitarian Organisations
The government of Israel will fully facilitate the activities of international organizations with particular reference to UNRWA.
The government of Israel agreed to review and strengthen the liaison arrangements between international agencies and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
On previous occasions, the government of Israel has made the following commitments, which were confirmed to the mission:
The fishing zone for Palestinian boats off the Gaza coast will be extended to 12 nautical miles
Olive farmers will be allowed access to their fields
Increased shipments will be enabled at Karni crossing in the Gaza Strip
number of permits for Palestinian workers in Israel will be increased.
In the West Bank and Gaza, ambulance operators reported 93 incidents of access delay or denial by the Israeli Defense Forces in May. In April, there were 52 reported incidents. Thirty-seven of the recorded incidents involved denials of access and 21 involved situations where medics reportedly came under physical attack by the IDF.
On 16 April, the Rafah Terminal was closed to all Palestinians between 16 and 35 years of age, a situation that is ongoing. However, restrictions were eased on emergency medical cases for treatment in Israel. At the Rafah Terminal, ambulances must transfer patients through the “back-to-back” method, in which patients are transferred from the rear of one vehicle to the rear of another. Due to closures and other restrictions imposed at the Rafah Terminal, the number of patients crossing there has reduced significantly.
In May, an IDF incursion into Gaza caused heavy damage to buildings and infrastructure, certain areas sustained substantial damage to their water network. For example, according to Rafah Municipality of the total sewerage network of 20km in Tal es Sultan district of Rafah,
15km was damaged. Of the 15km of sewerage network for the Rafah neighbourhoods of Brasil and Salam, 12km was damaged.
Facilitation of International Humanitarian Organisations
In May, international relief agencies filed some 151 incident reports in which the delivery of aid and/or the movement of personnel were obstructed by the IDF or Israeli Border Police. Most incidents reported included access delays or denials by the IDF of international organisations’ mandates, privileges and immunities. In 29 cases (compared to 53 in April), humanitarian access was denied.
The most problematic checkpoints were those around the West Bank city of Nablus and in Gaza. IDF incursions in the Rafah, Khan Younis and Zaitoun areas resulted in continued extended closures of crossing points between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
In Gaza, due to closures and new security measures after the suicide attack on 14 March in Ashdod, in which ten people were killed and 16 wounded, the volume of imports in May fell by 57% and exports by 78%. The reduction in trade is far greater in comparison to earlier months in 2004. The sharp decline in the flow of commercial traffic was not only reflected in shortages of supplies in Gaza shops, but represents a significant loss of income to the local economy.
In addition, the movement of Gaza fishermen remained subject to strict restrictions.