Protection of Civilians Weekly Report
25 February - 3 March 2009
> Two seven-storey Palestinian buildings in Al Tori (Abu Tor) neighbourhood in Jerusalem with a total of 32 apartment units were issued with demolition orders to be executed within 20 days. An estimated 250-300 Palestinians will be displaced.
> In the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, two families, Hanoun and Al Ghawi, were given orders to vacate their homes within ten days. The pending evacuations will displace an estimated approximately 70 Palestinians, including 25 children.
> On 5 March (day of publication), a Palestinian tractor driver attacked a police car and a civilian bus. Two Israeli police were lightly injured, and the perpetrator was shot and killed.
Unrelated to the Barrier Following the sudden rains, flooding affecting approximately 170 houses in a valley in the Tulkarem district, including ten to twenty houses severely affected. In the Jordan Valley, flooding also occurred in the Jiftlik area, causing damage to homes and agricultural land of some 60 families.
During the reporting period, two Palestinians were injured in Israeli settler violence. A seven-year-old Palestinian girl from the Wadi Al Hussein neighbourhood in the Israeli controlled part of Hebron City (H2), sustained injury to the head while en route home from school when settlers from Kiryat Arba settlement threw stones at her. Another man was assaulted by Israeli settlers in the same area the following day.
On 28 February, Israeli settlers uprooted approximately 130 trees from fields belonging to three Palestinian families from Jinsafut village (Qalqiliya).
In East Jerusalem, three Israelis threw stones at a group of Palestinian children, and then reportedly broke into the home of the As Sabagh family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. The Israeli police arrived to the scene and arrested the two perpetrators. No injures were reported. The family issued an official complaint at the police headquarters in West Jerusalem.
Gaza Strip Update
Violence Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket attacks continue despite the “unilateral” ceasefire declared separately by both Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, on 18 January. During the reporting period, Israeli armed forces conducted fourteen airstrikes, mostly targeting the smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, injuring four civilians. Over the weekend Palestinian rocket fire hit the Israeli town of Ashkelon—some 16 kilometres from the Gaza-Israeli border, landing near a school. No injuries were reported, but two houses sustained minor damage.
Imports During the reporting period, 466 truckloads entered Gaza a 26% decrease from the prior reporting period, and approximately 83% of the average weekly imports for the year 2008. Out of the 466 truckloads, 94 were comprised of grain entered through the Karni conveyor belt. Of the remaining items, notably five truckloads carried eleven prefabricated school-classrooms with the capacity of accommodating 500 students.
The Israeli criteria used for processing and determining import requests into Gaza remain opaque. All rejections are issued verbally. In response to access constraints and interferences in the delivery of aid by the Israeli authorities, and to a lesser degree, by the PA and the authorities in Gaza, humanitarian partners produced a joint Framework of Principles based on well- established international humanitarian principles, as a guide for the provision of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, to clarify requirements needed for delivery of assistance.
Food Although food is generally available in the Gaza Strip, prices for some essential food items (e.g. fresh meat and fruit) have increased in recent weeks due to scarcity of supply, and for other commodities (e.g. sugar, wheat), the Gaza authorities have been forced to put price restrictions in place. Since November, there has been a marked shortage of animal feed, as well as heating fuel for chicken farms. As such, local meat production has been greatly affected and Gaza’s population is forced to rely on frozen imports for its protein.
No agricultural raw materials were allowed into Gaza during the reporting period. Since the beginning of 2009, most agricultural imports consisted of animal feed or supplements (544 truckloads) which do not sufficiently meet Gaza’s needs. Excepting a few truckloads of eggs and seedlings, no other types of agriculture-related raw materials have been allowed into Gaza in 2009. Agricultural raw materials including fertilizers, seedlings, and construction material for farm facility reconstruction are needed but are currently restricted from entry into Gaza.
Tunnel incidents Tunnels under the border with Egypt continue to be used to import commodities banned or supplied in insufficient quantities through the official crossings. Two of these tunnels collapsed during the reporting period due to faulty construction, resulting in five Palestinians killed. In 2008, at least 51 Palestinians died and 69 others were injured in tunnel related incidents.
Shelter In mid-February, the UNDP began a cash distribution program on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for Palestinians with destroyed or damaged homes, but distribution has slowed due to shortage of cash within the Gaza Strip.
On 28 February, after two years of postponement, the NGO, GVC-Italia succeeded in importing two water desalination plants into the Gaza Strip for use in Al Bureij Refugee camp. The plants have the capacity to provide an estimated 50 cubic meters of water per hour, enough for 22,000 persons. Piped water is still not available for all Gazans--50,000 people do not have access to piped water; an additional 100,000 Gaza residents receive water for a few hours only every 7-10 days, including in parts of Beit Hanoun, Jabalia, Gaza City and Rafah. Thousands are relying on trucked water to their homes.
Electricity With the exception of ten percent of the population with no access to electricity due to grid damage, electricity has been restored to pre-“Cast Lead” operation levels. Scheduled rolling power blackouts remain in place: 8 hours three times per week in the Gaza and North Gaza governorates, 8 hours of power cuts every third day in Middle Area and Khan Younis, and 4-6 hours of power cuts every third day in Rafah. As of 2 March, the power deficit in Gaza remains at 19 percent.