Protection of Civilians Weekly Report No. 290
17 - 23 December 2008
Fuel imports halted and electricity cut durations increase: No fuel of any type was allowed into Gaza this week. On 19 December, Gaza’s only power plant was shutdown for the fifth time since 5 November 08, due to the lack of fuel. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) has implemented stricter rationing with longer power cuts due to increase in demand of electricity. This increase is the combined result of the severe shortage of cooking gas and the colder weather. Gaza City and northern and middle districts are now experiencing 12-hour power cuts per day. The functioning of operating water wells (only 20% are fully operational) was further affected by the fuel shortage, with the amount of water pumped going down to 140,000 cubic metres per day from 220,000 cubic metres before the shut-down of the Gaza power plant. The Coastal Municipal Water Utility has 7,000 litres of fuel of stock, enough to cover 1-2 days of their daily needs.
Health: No drug or medical supplies have been allowed into Gaza since 16 December. Over 20% of essential drugs and medical supplies were reported to be out of stock (less than one month supply) by the Central Drug Store. As the emergency stocks in Gaza are not replenished, there is an increasing risk of an acute shortage of medicines in the event of a major escalation in violence and large numbers of people injured.
The Free Gaza Boat arrived in Gaza from Cyprus on 20 December carrying one tonne of medical supplies and humanitarian aid from Qatar. In addition, the boat carried an eleven member delegation of international academics, and humanitarian and human rights workers. There have been four such trips made to Gaza in August, October, and November 08.
Two Palestinians were killed in two tunnels collapses along the Egypt-Rafah border. A large number of tunnels have been constructed during the past 18 months, following the blockade imposed on Gaza in June 2007, following the Hamas takeover. Since the beginning of 2008, approximately 50 people have been killed in tunnels related incidents. The number of causalities is reportedly due to a combination of poor tunnel construction and increased use.
East Jerusalem Demolitions
On 21 December, a Palestinian family of five, including three children, were displaced when the home owner demolished his own residence in the East Jerusalem of Beit Hanina neighbourhood to avoid paying fines following a demolition order from Israeli authorities two weeks prior. Despite the voluntary demolition, the owner still received an order to pay a fine of 70,000 NIS for building without a permit. On the same day, for the fourth time in as many weeks, Israeli security forces dismantled the solidarity tent set up near the house in Sheikh Jarrah from which Al Kurd family was evicted. A new tent was re-erected.
OCHA releases comprehensive report on Israeli-Settler violence
This week OCHA released a new report addressing the phenomenon of Israeli settler violence in the West Bank. The report provides an in-depth look at settler-related incidents targeting Palestinians and their property in first ten months of 2008. There were 290 settler-related incidents of violence or property damage, reflecting a worrying trend, since it surpasses the total number of incidents in each of the previous two years. Similarly, Palestinian casualties resulting from settler violence in 2008 exceed the parallel time periods in each of the previous two years. Approximately half of all Palestinian injuries from settler violence each year since 2006 have been made up of children, women, and the elderly over 70 years of age. By contrast to recent weeks’ escalation, there were relatively few incidents reported this week, with only five resulting Palestinian injuries.