Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Situation Report on the Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip – No. 13
17-18 January 2009
The following information is based on reports from member states, the UN Country Team for the occupied Palestinian territory, humanitarian partners and authorities involved in the humanitarian response.
1. General Overview
1. A unilateral ceasefire in Gaza was declared by Israel at 0200 hrs (0000 hrs GMT) on 18 January. Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) troops remain inside Gaza, but have withdrawn from some of the most populated areas, including Al Zaitoun, Beit Lahiya, and Beit Hanoun. Israel stated that it will not fully withdraw forces until there is a cessation of rocket fire into Israel from Palestine.
2. Limited violence, including Israeli bombardment and rocket fire from Palestine into Israel continued until the afternoon (local time) on 18 January. As at 1600 hrs (1400 hrs GMT), seventeen rockets were fired into Israel from Palestine on 18 January. At 1600 hrs (1400 hrs GMT) on 18 January, Hamas announced a week-long ceasefire, during which they said the IDF is to leave Gaza
3. The UN Secretary General stated that he was, “relieved that the Israeli Government has decided to cease hostilities…and that Hamas must stop firing rockets”. He urged that the ceasefire be the first step toward establishing a durable and sustainable ceasefire leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, as called for by Security Council resolution 1860. He also stressed that urgent access for the people of Gaza is the immediate priority, and that the UN is ready to support these efforts.
4. On 17 January a UN Relief and World Agency (UNRWA) school was shelled. Two children were killed in the attack and fourteen were injured. The school was functioning as an emergency shelter at the time it was hit, and was hosting 1,600 people. The UN Secretary General condemned the incident as “outrageous” and, “strongly demanded a thorough investigation into these incidents, and the punishment of those who are responsible for these appalling acts.”
5. To better establish the immediate humanitarian and early recovery needs, planning is underway to conduct an inter-agency assessment in Gaza, followed by sector-specific assessments, as the security situation permits.
6. Casualty figures: