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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 August 2004
OFFICE FOR THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS
P.O. Box 38712 East Jerusalem
Phone: (972) 2 – 5829962 / 5825853, Fax: (972) 2 – 5825841
HUMANITARIAN MONITORING REPORT - AUGUST 2004
The Humanitarian Monitoring Report is produced monthly by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It draws on information from the Access, Closure and Information System (ACIS), among other data sources that humanitarian agencies have submitted to OCHA. The report is provided to the Task Force on Project Implementation (TFPI) as a basis for discussions with the government of Israel. It is available on the website (www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt).
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Ms Catherine Bertini as his Personal Humanitarian Envoy to address the humanitarian needs arising from the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict since September 2000. Ms Bertini was requested to assess the nature and scale of the humanitarian needs, and to clarify the respective responsibilities of all actors with regard to humanitarian needs.
This report monitors the humanitarian commitments made by the government of Israel to Ms Bertini during a mission to the region from 12 to 19 August 2002. It concluded that there were serious humanitarian problems linked to the ongoing conflict and, specifically, to the measures implemented by the government of Israel to safeguard its citizens from Palestinian attacks.
These security measures, including curfews, closures and roadblocks, led to a crisis of access and mobility, instigating a drastic decline in the Palestinian economy. A large part of the Palestinian population has difficulty accessing basic services such as health and education.
Humanitarian service providers such as UN agencies, NGOs, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) ambulances, have experienced problems providing assistance and services to beneficiaries.
• Ambulances will wait no more than 30 minutes at checkpoints.
• Mechanisms will be set in place to ensure patients seeking critical medical services (child delivery, dialysis, chemotherapy) can pass all checkpoints quickly.
• Problems relating to water deliveries in Palestinian towns and villages will be addressed to ensure that daily provision of adequate volume can be supplied by Palestinian water tankers.
Facilitation of International Humanitarian Organisations
• The government of Israel will fully facilitate the activities of international organisations, with particular reference to UNRWA.
• The government of Israel agreed to review and strengthen the liaison arrangements between international agencies and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
On previous occasions, the government of Israel has made the following commitments, which were confirmed to the mission:
• The fishing zone for Palestinian boats off the Gaza coast will be extended to 12 nautical miles
• Olive farmers will be allowed access to their fields.
• Increased shipments will be enabled at Karni crossing in the Gaza Strip.
• The number of permits for Palestinian workers in Israel will be increased.
Palestinian and UNRWA ambulance operators reported at least 31 humanitarian access incidents (compared to 41 in July 2004) in which the provision of first aid and/or medical evacuations was delayed, obstructed and/or prevented by the IDF. PRCS reports that delays, denials of access and arbitrary searches had a negative impact on the sick and wounded in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including the areas of Ramallah, Nablus, Tubas and Gaza.
Water and Sanitation, Hygiene (WaSH) Monitoring Project reports that closure has had the main direct effect on the WaSH situation in the West Bank as well as in the Gaza Strip. In August for two days, Gaza Strip was divided into three parts: northern, middle and the southern part. The three parts were completely closed and residents of one part were unable to reach the other two parts. Maintenance teams trying to reach the needed areas were prohibited
from reaching their destinations.
Facilitation of International Humanitarian Organisations
In August 2004, international relief agencies filed at least 108 incident reports in which the delivery of aid and/or the movement of personnel were obstructed by the IDF or Israeli Border Police. Most incidents reported included delays and disrespect by the IDF of international humanitarian organisations’ mandates, privileges and immunities.
The IDF, which had established a cordon around Beit Hanoun on 28 June 2004, withdrew from northern Gaza on 5 August 2004. UNRWA operations were severely disrupted contributing to a serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation of the affected areas, the agency reported.
The number of containers entering Gaza from Israel, the West Bank and elsewhere, steadily increased in August with a total of 6,477 units compared to 6,290 in July. Exports are approaching the levels seen in April just before the introduction of new security measures. In August, 1,020 containers with commercial produce left the Gaza Strip. The 1,020 units fall short of the 1,073 that left Gaza in April, but the number is more than four times the figure of May when only 239 containers were exported. Exports in August accounted for approximately 13% of terminal activity which is nearly double the figure for June of 7.3% but still well short of the 20 to 22% range seen between January and April.
Furthermore, while the number of workers entering Israel and the industrial zone is starting to increase, the figures remain less than those at the end of 2003 and early 2004. Currently, an average of 1,731 workers are crossing into Israel daily and 355 into the industrial zone. This represents a reduction of more than 88% in the total number of workers - and a huge loss of income to the local economy.
The restrictions imposed by the IDF since October 2003, that were originally intended to be for six months, remain in place 10 months later.
Fishermen are unable to drop nets over approximately 40% of the Gaza coastline. Where they are permitted to do so, they are unable to go beyond six nautical miles, which is half the distance of the Israeli government commitment.