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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
30 September 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 - SEPTEMBER 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) and 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 a total of at least 54 access incidents (compared to 31 in August 2004) in which the provision of first aid and/or medical evacuations were delayed, obstructed and/or prevented by the IDF.
Furthermore, on 8 September the mayors of Beit Furik and Salem reported that in the previous five weeks, four Palestinians had died due to delays experienced en route to a hospital in Nablus while trying to cross Beit Furik checkpoint after 7pm. In three cases an ambulance was waiting on the other side of the checkpoint to transport the patient to hospital.
Infrastructure in the oPt continued to suffer from frequent Israeli military operations. Such operations destroy or badly damage basic public infrastructure including water networks.
Palestinians face severe difficulties accessing safe water. Furthermore, Palestinian Authority resources are being diverted into repairing damages rather than maintaining the water and sanitation network. Contamination of water supplies has increased as a consequence of degraded infrastructure. The use of tankered water and the inability of the MoH to monitor water quality have also increased.
Obstructions of movement for international humanitarian organisations
In September, international relief agencies filed at least 53 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.
International staff members working for UN agencies are subject to new movement restrictions when crossing Erez, between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Since 22 September, UN international staff, with the exception of diplomatic passports holders, has not been permitted to cross Erez in vehicles. The IDF has advised UN staff that they can cross by foot.
However, this contravenes UN security rules. The IDF has prohibited UN staff from entering or leaving Gaza, a total of 60 days in 2004 (January through September).
The volume of trade increased between May and August, as measured by the total number of containers entering and leaving Gaza, but since September this trend has reversed. The quantity of both imports and exports of commercial traffic fell for the first time in four months. Additionally, the share of exports as a percentage of total trade declined by nearly half compared to August; while exports in August accounted for approximately 13% of terminal activity, the figure was 7.7% for September.
Significant periods of closure have occurred at Erez throughout the course of 2004 primarily in response to four suicide attacks that have taken place, as well as the most recent failed attempt. While such measures were taken by Israel on the grounds of its security, the effects on individual workers and the wider local economy are immense.
In addition, movement of Gaza fishermen remained subject to strict restrictions.