Five children wounded on 16 September in a blast in a Palestinian school south of Hebron
Fishermen in Gaza are not given access to the harbour;
9 PRCS ambulances were delayed by the IDF at checkpoints this week; the delays varied between 30 minutes and 2 ½ hours
370,000 Palestinians under continuous curfew throughout the reporting period;
The Palestinian Authority cabinet resigned in a surprise move on 11 September when faced with a no-confidence vote of the majority of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Following the resignation of the PA cabinet Chairman Arafat signed a decree setting presidential and parliamentary elections for 20 January 2003.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) expressed concern at the unfolding crisis in the oPt. According to UNCTAD's annual report, the ongoing crisis has already exhausted the benefits of development efforts. The report notes that the tight closure regime that has been in place in the oPt since April 2002 brought about a situation that resembles complex humanitarian emergencies. The report notes that the widespread vulnerability among the population is currently taking a heavy toll on the productive capacity, institutional infrastructure and the economy as a whole.
The situation in the West Bank remained tense throughout the reporting period. A total of 53 armed clashes occurred in the West Bank. The casualties in the West Bank remained high with 122 Palestinians injured and 3 killed. 4 Israelis were injured in the same period.
Five Palestinian children were wounded on 16 September in a blast in the courtyard of a Palestinian school in the West Bank village of Yatta - south of Hebron. According to the Israeli English language daily Ha'aretz, police sources stated "Jewish terrorist" were likely to be responsible for the blast. The blast went off as school was in session.
The IDF confiscated Palestinian land plots for the construction of its security fence in Yabad, east of Jenin and in Faroun and Kafriyat, south of Tulkarm. In addition the IDF confiscated land near Efrat settlement, south of Bethlehem for the construction of a fence. In addition, the Israeli Government announced this week that Kalandia airport and Rachel's tomb will be annexed to the Jerusalem municipality. The Palestinian Legislative Council condemned the Israeli Government's decision stating that it was in violation of international agreements.
In Gaza the IDF conducted overnight incursions in a number of areas of the Strip including the eastern district of the Gaza City. The IDF tanks and bulldozers entered Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the Northern part of the Gaza Strip. In addition the IDF entered the Hay Al Salem quarter in Rafah near the Egyptian border and the Brazil Camp. At least 100 donums and 4 houses were destroyed as a result of the IDF incursions. Several other houses were reportedly damaged.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), the total number of Palestinian casualties since 29 September 2000 has reached 1751 fatalities and 20, 279 injured (as of 16 September 2002). The IDF reports that the total number of Israeli casualties for the same period is 612 fatalities and 4512 injured (as of 18 September 2002).
For more detailed information about curfews see www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/
Closures and Humanitarian Access
The IDF "Determined Path" operation entered its fourth month. On the occasion of Yom Kippur the IDF enforced strict closure regime throughout the West Bank and Gaza. The closures were marked by 24-hour curfews and additional restrictions on movement of Palestinians particularly around Jerusalem and main cities in the West Bank. Closures were also tightened in Gaza following a relative improvement in the internal circulation reported last week. All entry points to Jerusalem are blocked and the closure regime remains unchanged even after the Yom Kippur celebrations.
Some 24 localities (including major urban areas, refugee camps, and rural communities) were placed under curfew. 370,000 West Bank residents in 20 localities were placed under continuous curfews (5-8 days in a row with irregular curfew-lifting hours) while residents of Qalqilya and Hebron saw inter-temporary curfews with longer lifting hours. Overall, the curfew regime affected some 570,000 civilians in the West Bank alone. Curfews were also enforced in smaller localities in the Gaza Strip, notably in Palestinian communities neighboring with Israeli settlements, bypass roads as well as in closed military zones. The curfew regime in the West Bank was carried out more rigorously over the past week compared with a more lax curfew enforcement observed previously. On 11 September the IDF shot and injured four Palestinians in Nablus for breaking the curfew.
With the exception of Bethlehem, curfews were imposed in all other West Bank towns and the refugee camps of Askar, Balata, Jenin, Tulkarem, Al-Am'ari, Camp 1- Ein Beit el Ma Camp (Nablus). In addition 3 villages around Nablus ('Asira Ash-Shamalia, Beit Iba and Beit Wazzan), and 2 villages in Tulkarem (Far'un and Irtah) -- along the Green Line and in the vicinity of Israli settlements - were placed under curfews of varied duration.
The Netzarim junction, which has been reopened on 2 September after 4 months of complete closure, is now operating intermittently: a few hours a day in several shifts.
The situation of fish farmers in Rafah and Khan Younis remains critical, as the IDF continued to enforce a two-month long total ban on fishing in the Mediterranean. Recently the restrictions on the fishermen's activities were tightened to prevent them from accessing the harbour.
The roads leading to the Northern enclave of Seafa have been closed during the reporting period. The Palestinian enclaves of Seafa (Northern Gaza) and al-Mawasi were totally sealed off on the day of Yom Kippur.
Local sources in Gaza reported that the number of work permits issued to Gazan labourers was on the rise during the reporting period: on average some 10,000 Palestinian workers were granted permits on a daily basis.
The tightened closure/curfews regime in the West Bank and Gaza created additional difficulties for relief agencies delivering emergency assistance to the needy.
Particularly affected were UNRWA operations that suffered delays and disruptions. UNRWA's distribution team and accompanying trucks were refused entry to Tulkarm after a two-hour delay. Al-Amari Camp and Hebron Health Centres did not operate due to curfews. UNRWA staff members reported difficulties entering and leaving Ramallah via the northern Beit El checkpoint. All UNRWA traffic is now channelled through the more crowded southern Kalandia checkpoint. On Monday 10 September, a UNRWA distribution team was denied entrance to Jenin as the city was under a strict closure.
Lack of access is still the main constraint faced by all service providers in the oPt. The network of road blocks and checkpoints continue to isolate villages and urban centres, thus hindering movement of people and goods.
Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has delivered food and medicines to 50 persons trapped since early Sunday morning in a building occupied by the IDF in Ramallah.
PRCS reports that the needless delays of their ambulance services at checkpoints continue to endanger Palestinians in need of emergency medical help. During last week a total of 9 ambulances were needlessly delayed by the IDF at checkpoints the delays varied from 30 minutes to 2 ½ hours. In addition 1 ambulance was denied passage at the checkpoint in Huwwara.
In Bethlehem a PRSC ambulance was denied passage at a checkpoint after having cleared its movement with the IDF beforehand. The ambulance was delayed at the checkpoint and was subsequently ordered to take a bypass road. In Gaza an elderly diabetes patient died after the IDF refused to facilitate access for the ambulance and medical team responding to the emergency call.
PRCS reported last week a theft of one of its ambulances on 11 September in Nablus. IDF soldiers reportedly ordered the PRCS ambulance driver to take them to Nablus. Following the driver's refusal to cooperate, the IDF soldiers ordered the driver to leave the ambulance and drove off with the ambulance. The ambulance was returned to the PRCS driver 20 minutes later.
A non-governmental organization Movement for Peace, Disarmament and Liberty (MPDL) has completed a database on disabled persons in the Northern Gaza Strip and is currently negotiating with the Ministry of Health (MoH) on how to hand over the data and integrate the database to the MoH systems. The MPDL has just completed a three-month training courses on nutrition for women (targeting 640 women/families) in the north of the West Bank and is scheduled to launch another 3-month session of First Aid courses for adolescents (2,000) in the same areas.
ICRC distributed this week vouchers to 1,070 families or 6,500 persons in Tulkarm. Trough the voucher program targeted families will be able to purchase each month basic commodities with a total value of US $ 90 in several pre-selected local stores. The program covers a total of 120,000 beneficiaries in 9 urban centres. The voucher program comes in addition to ICRC's food and non-food rural relief program that is currently assisting approximately 180,000 persons throughout the West Bank. ICRC's Rural Relief program distributed some 53.5 MT (MT) of rice, 53.5 MT of wheat flour and 53.5 MT of sugar to 1070 families in Nablus; 21.05 MT of rice, 21.05 tons of wheat flour and 21, 05 MT of sugar to 421 families in 5 villages in Ramallah; 8, 25 MT of rice, 8, 25 wheat flour and 8, 25 sugar to 165 families in 5 villages in Salfit.
During the reporting period the UNRWA West Bank Field Office distributed 34 MT of vegetable oil and 34 MT of rice to Nablus, in addition to 16,555 emergency parcels in 10 different locations in the West Bank. A UNRWA emergency parcel is a standard package for a family of two persons - larger families receive two or more parcels, containing 30 kg of wheat flour, 7 kg sugar, 7 kg rice, 4 kg powdered milk, and 4 liters of vegetable oil. The total number of beneficiaries that received food parcels during the past week is approximately 33,000.
Food parcels and bulk food was distributed in Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Wadi Birqin, Tulkarm, Tulkarm Camp, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Jalazone Camp, and Beit Jala.
World Food Program (WFP) pre-positioned 553 MT of wheat flour in its warehouses in Gaza Town, Khan Younis, and Deir Alballah and 43.7 MT of rice in Khan Younis. In the West Bank WFP pre-positioned some 134 MT of rice, 15.5 MT vegetable oil and 73.9 MT wheat flour in its warehouses in Jerusalem, Halhoul, Jenin and Nablus.
The total amount of bulk food delivered by ICRC, WFP and UNRWA in the West Bank during the reporting period amounts to 250 MT of rice; 49.5 MT of vegetable oil; 192.7 MT of wheat flour and 82.8 MT of sugar in the West Bank.
Income and Employment Generation
Responding the accelerated impoverishment and chronic unemployment in the occupied Palestinian territory, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme - Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) have launched a $15 million employment generation program called "TASHGHIL", the Arabic word for "creating job opportunities."
As one of the largest emergency employment generation programs ever implemented in the oPt, TASHGHIL will target 27 especially hard-hit West Bank and Gaza communities with combined populations totalling 698,000. In the West Bank, it will include urban and rural communities in Tulkarem and Qalqilya. In Gaza, the focus will be on Gaza City, Jabalia, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun.
TASHGHIL projects will focus on the creation of immediate job opportunities through labour-intensive work projects; improvement of access to basic services through construction or improvement of schools, roads and community centres; and empowerment of women and youth through the expansion of vocational training opportunities.
In response to the prolonged closures in the West Bank CARE recently launched a project to support women in rural areas of Jenin. The project is designed to improve households' living standards by providing resources and technical assistance. The project focuses on improving the livelihood security of impoverished households in a self-reliant manner through animal husbandry and kitchen-gardening activities.
UNICEF is supporting a 'back to school' campaign to ensure that Palestinian children return to school and that classes continue uninterrupted throughout the entire school year. The campaign aims to ensure that all Palestinian children living below poverty line are provided with school uniforms, school bags and tuition fees. The campaign has thus far reached over 12,000 Palestinian children. UNICEF is particularly concerned that because of accelerated impoverishment many Palestinian parents are unable to afford sending their children to school.
During the reporting period ICRC distributed 390 school kits in Nablus, 421 school kits in five different villages in Ramallah and 1264 school kits in 15 villages in Salfit. The school kits contain basic equipment needed to attend school.
MPDL reports that their re-electrification of the main streets in Jenin Camp is delayed due to the high risk of destruction caused by the recurrent IDF incursions -- by tanks and armored vehicles.
Following the IDF April incursions, CARE started its emergency activities providing potable water to the affected population of the Jenin city and Jenin Camp. Currently CARE is providing 70,000 litres per day to the refugee and resident populations. In addition, CARE has developed an emergency response plan to address acute water shortages in the West Bank -- result of a four-year long drought; inequitable water distribution and inadequate infrastructure in the Palestinian rural communities. The project will be implemented in nine villages in the eastern part of the Jenin district and include tankering water, building communal and household cisterns, providing communal storage facilities. In addition the project will launch a water conservation awareness and hygiene campaigns in the targeted communities.