Following the Palestinian ceasefire that took affect at 8pm on 16 May, internal violence has calmed. However, there has been an escalation in Palestinian-Israeli violence.
Update on Internal Palestinian Violence
There are some signs of improvement regarding civilian movement and the delivery of services throughout the Gaza Strip. The situation in Gaza City, however, remains more volatile.
Sporadic clashes have continued between Fatah forces and Hamas and its affiliated Executive Support Force (ESF) with at least two further deaths and 10 injuries. Since fighting erupted on 13 May at least 39 Palestinians have been killed in factional violence and a further 124 injured.
· Militia checkpoints and road blocks have now been cleared from most parts of the Gaza Strip including the two principal north-south axis roads, Salah ed Din Street and the Coastal road. Traffic is now returning to the streets of the Gaza Strip.
· Militants are still visible in Gaza City but have now moved to side streets and are only seen in small groups monitoring traffic movement from a distance.
· Militants are still reported to be located on the roofs and upper floors of high-rise buildings particularly in the area around the Islamic University in Gaza City. It is believed they are holding these positions to ensure they have vantage points if the cease fire collapses.
· Shops and markets are now reopening in Gaza City neighbourhoods of Sheikh Radwan, Shuja’ieh and Zeitoun, allowing families to replenish food stocks.
· Garbage continues to accumulate on the streets throughout Gaza City
· Parts of the western Rimal area of Gaza city still remain closed. This was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the last two days due to the presence of a number of Fatah security bases in the area.
· UNRWA facilities are operating on a normal basis throughout the Gaza Strip with the exception of Gaza City where staff are still being requested to stay at home. While schools remain closed in Gaza City, the main UNRWA health clinic in Rimal, Gaza City is open today.
· Two UNRWA schools hosting 3,000 pupils in Rafah, came under fire earlier this afternoon as a result of ongoing armed clashes between Hamas and Fatah gunmen in the area.The children were forced to congregate on the first floor of the school for their own safety pending evacuation.
Rafah crossing has not been open since 14 May, except for a few hours on 15 May to allow the entry of approximately 450 Fatah security officials returning from training in Egypt. No other passengers were permitted to cross in either direction.
Erez crossing has remained open throughout the period of the factional fighting allowing the movement into Israel of traders, medical referrals and Palestinians working for international organizations.
The Erez DCL has facilitated the passage of medicines and consumables through the Erez crossing for WHO, ICRC and MAP-UK. Included among the consumables are, blood bags that have been in short supply at Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
Palestinian-Israeli violence continues to escalate in the Gaza Strip. Qassam rockets continue to be fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards Israel today leading to further casualties in the nearby town of Sderot. In three separate incidents according to Israeli media, Qassam rockets hit two homes and a high school.Two people were treated for light injuries and a further seven for shock.
An average of approximately 15 Qassams per day were reported to have been fired into Israel since Tuesday with at least 30 Israelis injured. Hundreds of Sderot residents have been evacuated by the Israeli government to Soldier’s Welfare Hostels in Israel.
In response to the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel, the Israeli Air Force resumed its policy of targeting the bases and premises of Palestinian militant groups. Four aerial attacks took place this afternoon:
• the targeting of an ESF compound in Gaza City killing one person, and injuring at least 12;
• an attack on a vehicle carrying Hamas members in the centre of Gaza City, killing two and injuring three Palestinians;
· an attack in Jabalia in northern Gaza on a car carrying members of Islamic Jihad where no one was injured or killed.
· an attack on a vehicle in Jalaa Street killing one and injuring six.
(There are no current details whether these casualties included civilians).