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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 July 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 - JULY 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 to access 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, UNRWA and NGO ambulance operators reported a total of 41 humanitarian access incidents (compared to 38 in June 2004) in which the provision of first aid and/or medical evacuations was delayed, obstructed and/or prevented by the IDF. Delays represent more than 60% of the reported incidents. However, 10 incidents were reported in which crews came under IDF attack.
Furthermore, both PRCS and MoH reported significant difficulties operating inside Beit Hanoun; neither PRCS ambulances nor MoH ambulances could reach some areas, including the area around As Sika, to deliver health care services and/or evacuate patients.
UNRWA reported that in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, water and electrical supplies were cut due to the damages caused by the movements of Israeli armoured vehicles. It was also reported that IDF troops destroyed water and sewerage networks in the west of Beit Hanoun. The health situation is alarming because of the ongoing Israeli military operation in Beit Hanoun. There is an increase of incidence of dermatological and diarrhoeal diseases resulted from water shortage. In addition, areas in the West Bank also experienced water shortages.
Facilitation of International Humanitarian Organisations
The prolonged incursion into Beit Hanoun raised considerable security concerns for UN and NGO staff working inside the area, and also for those moving back and forth to the nearby Erez Terminal. Furthermore in July, 56 UN staff were directly affected by eight separate shooting incidents in north eastern Gaza. No injuries were reported. UNRWA, the largest humanitarian organisation operating in the oPt, reported 51 access problems at IDF checkpoints. IDF incursions in the Rafah, Khan Younis and Zaitoun areas resulted in continued extended closures of crossing points between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Movement within the Gaza Strip was interrupted by simultaneous closure.
While the movement of commercial products out of Gaza has increased since May, it is significantly lower than movement between January and April 2004. During the first four months of 2004, Palestinian exports represented between 20% and 22% of terminal activity:
imports and exports. This figure was 7.3% in June and 12% in July.
For a second consecutive month, Erez Terminal and industrial zone were open to Palestinian workers (following a 43-day closure between 18 April and 30 May).
While many Palestinian workers have been able to resume their work, the number of workers is significantly lower in comparison to earlier months – the losses to the local economy are enormous.
In addition, the movement of Gaza fishermen remained subject to strict restrictions. Restrictions remain in place over a large stretch of the Gaza coastline. Boats are permitted to travel 6 nautical miles from the coast, and to an area between Deir El Balah in central Gaza to the south of Dugit settlement in northern Gaza.