The seventh day of the Gaza emergency started amidst the first wave of mass displacement. Over the past 24 hours, tens of thousands of Palestinians from northern Gaza have fled their homes following warnings from the Israeli military, ahead of anticipated attacks on rocket launchers in the area. Some 17,000 have taken shelter in 20 UNRWA schools in Gaza City and the North Area. It is estimated that an additional 7,500 people have been displaced since the beginning of the emergency, following the destruction or severe damage sustained to their homes, and are hosted by relatives and neighbors.
The vast majority of men, women and children displaced have fled their homes with few belongings, including families who lost everything under the rubble of their destroyed homes. This is increasing the caseload of humanitarian organizations to meet these people's basic needs of shelter, mattresses, food, water and sanitation facilities. While current stocks are generally sufficient to cover these needs, the prevailing insecurity impedes distributions, particularly for families who are not in UNRWA shelters.
Meeting basic needs is becoming increasingly challenging for the rest of the civilian population as well, including related to water supply for domestic needs. As the scope of damage to water and sewage infrastructure increases, the main water utility in Gaza (CMWU) announced the suspension of regular operations and repairs, following the killing of three of its staff while on duty. The utility warned that unless its operations resume in the coming days, up to a third of Gaza's population (approx. 600,000) will be gradually left without water.
Insecurity is also undermining access to health services, with people venturing onto the streets only as a matter of last recourse. Health facilities and medical personnel have been affected by the hostilities: two hospitals, four clinics, one treatment centre, and four ambulances have sustained damage, while one doctor has been killed and 19 medical staff injured since 7 July.
Heavy Israeli bombardments, from air, sea and land, have continued almost uninterruptedly across the Gaza Strip during the period. However, the past 24 hours witnessed a significant decrease in the death toll, with a total of eight fatalities recorded compared with a daily average of over 27 in the previous six days.
Human rights organizations estimate that since the start of the emergency the Israeli army has targeted and destroyed over 180 homes, many of which were the residences of alleged members of armed groups. According to one Israeli organization (B'Tselem), at least 52 civilians were killed in these attacks. The targeting of civilian homes is a violation of international humanitarian law unless the homes are being used for military purposes. In case of doubt, buildings ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets.
Indiscriminate rocket firing by armed groups in Gaza at Israeli localities also continued during the past 24 hours, resulting in few Israeli injuries and some damage to property, as most projectiles fell in open areas or were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. While Palestinian rocket fire has so far not resulted in Israeli deaths, multiple reports about the launching of these rockets from densely populated areas have raised increasing concern. Such practice severely endangers the lives of Palestinian civilians residing in these areas, in addition to the Israeli civilians targeted.
Humanitarian needs and response
Emergency shelter kits and basic NFIs available in stock cannot be delivered due to security risks.
36 government schools have been identified as potential shelters, but the Ministry of Education does not currently have the capacity to run the shelters.
Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
Today (14 July), the Palestinian Prime Minister held a briefmg and discussion with a range of representatives from international organizations, including UN bodies, and national and international NGOs. The PM highlighted that the Palestinian National Consensus Government is doing its utmost to respond to the situation, such as the evacuation of wounded people and delivery of medical supplies, and requested the support of the international community in addressing current gaps.
A number of donors have already started working with clusters and partners to look into providing funding for urgent needs in the most critical sectors. Saudi Arabia has pledged 200 million riyals (US$53 3 million) for medicine and medical equipment for the wounded. The aid will be channelled through the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Yesterday, the Government of Norway noted the particular needs in shelter and health and has announced an extra contribution of NOK 30 million to respond to humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip. Norway has urged other donors to respond.
The 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the oPt has received US$ 165 million (42 per cent) out of a total request of US$390 million Nearly 90 per cent of 1.9 million vulnerable people targeted in the SRP are in Gaza. The Emergency Response Fund (ERF), an additional mechanism available to fund interventions in Gaza, is in urgent need of replenishment to ensure the fund's ability to provide rapid and flexible support to affected civilian populations. Additionally, there is an urgent need for funding to cover the US $22 million of UNRWA's Emergency Appeal shortfall.
On 7 July 2014, the Israeli army launched a large military operation in the Gaza Strip, codenamed "Protective Edge", with the stated objective of stopping Palestinian rocket firing at southern Israel and destroying the military infrastructure of Hamas and other armed groups.
This development marked the collapse of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire understanding reached between Israel and Hamas in November 2012, which has been gradually undermined since December 2013. The latest escalation round started in early June, characterized by an intensification of Israeli airstrikes and rockets launched from Gaza at southern Israel. Tensions further increased following the abduction and killing of three Israeli youths in the southern West Bank, on 12 June, which the Israeli government attributed to Hamas. Overall, in the period leading up to the start of the current operation a total of 15 Palestinians, including one civilian, were killed, and another 58 others, mostly civilians, injured, as a result of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip; seven Israelis, five of whom were civilians, were injured due to rocket fire.
The current crisis comes against a backdrop of heightened vulnerability and instability. Unemployment increased dramatically since mid-2013, following a halt of the illegal tunnel trade, exacerbating the impact of the Israeli blockade in place since June 2007. Additionally, former de facto government employees, including the security forces, have not been paid salaries regularly since August 2013 and no salaries at all since April 2014. Delivery of basic services has been also undermined due to an ongoing energy crisis, involving power outages of 12 hours per day.
For further information, please contact:
Katleen Maes, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 59 291 1047
Yehezkel Lein, Head of Analysis, Communications and Protection Unit, OCHA oPt, email@example.com, +972 54 331 1809
For media enquiries, please contact:
Hayat Abu-Saleh, Communications and Information Analyst, OCHA oPt, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 (0) 54 3311816 For more information, please visit www.ochaopt.org
1Data on fatalities and destruction of property is consolidated by the Protection and Shelter clusters based on preliminary information, and is
subject to change based on further verifications.
2 Data on injuries is provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.