Number of work permits issued to Palestinian labourers crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel continues to rise;
According to the Personal Humanitarian Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Israeli authorities have agreed to limit checkpoint stops for ambulances to no more than 30 minutes;
During the reporting period 42 localities in the West Bank were placed under curfew of which 18 localities under continued curfews during the whole period;
The Task Force on Palestinian Reform met on 22-23 August in Paris. The group that has been established to monitor and support the implementation of the Palestinian civil reform consists of representatives of the USA, EU, Russia, Norway, Japan, the UN Secretary General, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The daily activities of the Task Force are managed by seven working groups consisting of members of the donor community operating in the oPt. At its Paris meeting the Task Force also discussed the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the oPt and reiterated its call for unhindered and safe access for humanitarian personnel.
Ms. Cathrine Bertini, the Personal Humanitarian Envoy of the UN Secretary General stated in a press briefing following her seven-day visit to the region that the Government of Israel pledged to take measures to ease the humanitarian situation in the oPt. The measures would inter alia include limiting the checkpoint stops for ambulances to no more than 30 minutes and establishment of "special systems" to ease the burden on pregnant women and seriously ill. Israeli officials also pledged to facilitate the movement of water tankers and improve the access of the West Bank farmers to their fields notably during the olive harvest.
Closures this Week
The curfew regime in the West Bank has now been imposed continuously for almost ten weeks. Since 19 June 2002, when the IDF launched its "Determined Path" operation, curfews have been enforced for a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 70 days in some 125 different locations. The highest number of Palestinians under curfew was recorded on 9 July when approximately 913,524 (data analysis by OCHA based on PCBS demographic estimates) Palestinians in the West Bank were confined to their homes.
The closures in the West Bank and Gaza remain in place. There have been no sign of removing checkpoints or easing other hinderances to the free movement of the Palestinian population.
During the reporting period, the IDF maintained curfews throughout central and northern parts of the West Bank. In Jenin a 24-hour curfew was enforced from 19 to 22 August, during which IDF entered the town and opened fire on several occasions. On 26 August IDF re-imposed a curfew and entered the town and the refugee camp with several armored vehicles and five helicopters searching the area for suspected militants. A total curfew was also imposed on Ramallah in the period from 21 to 26 August. In Nablus the 24-hour curfew was lifted for four hours both the 21 and 22 August, and in Tulkarm the curfew was reported lifted on the 22 and 23 August. In Hebron a partial curfew was imposed on 19 and 21 August.
During the reporting period 42 localities in the West Bank were placed under curfew of which 18 localities under continued curfews during the whole period. Compared with the previous week the number of localities under uninterrupted curfew decreased from 24 to 18. The curfew regime in the West Bank continues to paralyze the civilian population and disrupt the operations of humanitarian service providers.
In Gaza the movement of persons and goods has, in general, improved. The coastal road connecting North and South of Gaza was only obstructed for short periods during the week. The Abu Houli junction (checkpoint) in Gaza was open with regular hours during the week. In contrast with the general improvement of internal movements, the entries to al-Mawwasi and the Seafa areas - Palestinian enclaves surrounded by Israeli settlements and military installations - have become more restricted. In both areas import and export and goods and movement of persons remain severely disrupted. Among other consequences this has led to a general shortage of manpower to harvest the fields in the area.
The West Bank
The IDF withdrew from Bethlehem on Monday 19 August, but maintained its presence around the town and continued to block its entry points. The Israeli Defence Minister annonused on 24 August that IDF does not concider it to possible to withdraw from the West Bank city of Hebron before the end of the Rosh HaShanah (some six weeks).
Curfews, search campaigns, house demolitions and intermittent violence in the West Bank increased during the reporting period. The number of armed incidents rose from 15 during the previous reporting period to a total of 42. However, the number of casualties both Palestinian and Israeli continued to decline. (accompanying chart).
Human rights group have filed a petition against the IDF following the death of a 19 years old resident of a West Bank village in Tubas. The IDF soldiers had, according to eyewitnesses' accounts, used the youngster as a human shield to arrest a presumed Palestinian activist in the village. The Human rights groups claim that the practice, which IDF refers to as "neighbor practice", is a violation of international law.
There has been no IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip where the general situation remained tense. During the reporting period the IDF carried out additional land leveling and house demolitions during their frequent incursions. 3 houses were reported totally destroyed and another 10 heavily damaged - most of them now uninhabitable.
Compared with previous weeks the casualty rate relatively declined in the Gaza Strip. The situation was particularly tense in the Khan Yunis area that came under repeated shelling and shooting during the reporting period. On 21 August IDF tanks supported by helicopters entered parts of the Khan Younis refugee camp. One Palestinian was killed and another six wounded as a result of the incursion. Two Palestinian children were killed and some 20 persons injured throughout the Gaza strip in a number of separate incidents.
The number of work permits issued for Palestinian labourers, particularly those crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel continues to rise. According to local sources in Gaza an average of some 8800 Palestinian workers were on a daily basis granted permits allowing them to work in Israel and Erez Industrial Zone, as compared with 7,600 last period and an average of approximately 3000 in July.
In Gaza the World Food Program (WFP) delivered 7 tons of rice and 704 tons of wheat flour to Dair Alballah, 15 tons of rice to Jabalia, 1 ton of rice and 64, 5 tons of wheat flour to Khan Younis, 3 tons of rice and 127, 5 tons of wheat flour to Rafha. In the West Bank WFP delivered 43,2 tons of wheat flour and 3 tons of oil to Halhoul, 43 tons of wheat flour and 3 tons of oil to Hebron, 22,5 tons of wheat flour and 1 ton of oil to Jerusalem and 30 tons of wheat flour and 1,4 tons of oil to Ramallah.
In total WFP delivered 842, 7 tons of wheat flour, 26 tons of rice and 8, 4 tons of oil to Gaza and the West Bank during last week.
The implementation of UNRWA operations in the West Bank continues to be hampered due to curfew, closures, and checkpoints. UNRWA Field Office in Jerusalem delivered 60 tons of wheat flour to Nablus, 44.2 tons of basic commodities to Jericho, 12 tons of rice and 12 tons of sugar to Hebron, 33, 8 basic commodities to Bethlehem, 67,8 tons of basic commodities to Sair and E-Shuyuhkh, 17,6 tons of wheat flour to Wadi Badan, and 30,7 tons of basic commodities to Wadi Badan and Taluza, 24 tons of flour and 84 tons of basic commodities to Far'a camp and 45 tons of basic commodities to Azun.
In total UNRWA Field Office in Jerusalem delivered 336.7 tons of basic commodities, 101.6 tons of wheat flour, 12 tons of rice and 12 tons of sugar throughout the West Bank during the reporting period.
ICRC is not an implementing partner of WFP. According to an agreement reached between ICRC and WFP in 1996, both organizations can lend or donate food to the other. In the oPt WFP will, under the previous mentioned agreement, donate a certain quantity of food to ICRC to supplement ICRC's rural relief program. This donation will commence in October and end n March 2003. Currently ICRC trough its rural relief program assist 30,000 families in approximately 300 villages. Each beneficiary household receives a family parcel consisting of food and non-food items.
WFP in cooperation with the Swedish Rescue Service Agency made also this week their truck fleet and international drivers available to assist the Ministry of Health (MoH) in transporting medical supplies from the MoH central warehouse in Ramallah. In total WFP moved 12 tons of medical supplies to Nablus and 12, 5 tons of medical supplies to Hebron.
Gravely concerned by the data released in the recent nutrition surveys by CARE/USAID and PCBS/UNICEF the Ministry of Health (MoH) has formed two committees that will follow up the findings. The committees will be situated both in Gaza and the West Bank. MoH will convene meetings with different stakeholders shortly. Furthermore the MoH's Mother and Child Care centres, Woman Health Department, School Health Services and the Health Education Department will focus their activities on community awareness regarding anemia, food and diet for children and pregnant women. The MoH will also reactivate the National Council for Nutrition.
The Palestinian Hydrology Group has released its first report from the Water and Sanitation, Hygiene (WaSH) monitoring project. The Monitoring Project is designed in such way that it involves most of the local environmental NGOs. In addition, it is supervised by a steering committee including the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), PENGON, PARC, Oxfam-GB and PCBS. To read the full report see www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/ or http://www.phg.org/monitoring/report_01.pdf
The Food Emergency Room Meeting
Time and Venue: 28 August, 11 AM at UNDP Jerusalem.
Health Emergency Response Coordination Meeting
Time and Venue: 8/28/2002 10:00 AM Central Public Health Laboratory in Ramallah
West Bank localities currently under curfew see www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/ mapcentre.
OCHA, Jerusalem 26 August 2002.