The Israeli Defense Force's (IDF) operation "Determined Path" is now entering its fifth week. The major West Bank urban centers and their adjoining refugee camps are still re-occupied, with the exception of Jericho, which continues to be sealed off by roadblocks, trenches and checkpoints. Some 600 Palestinians traveling to and from Jordan remain trapped in Jericho, due to movement restrictions on Palestinians entering Jordan and the closure regime in the West Bank.
Curfews were temporarily lifted for a few hours to allow residents to obtain essential supplies. However, days and opening hours remain sporadic and are not announced adequately in advance, significantly impacting on employment, services and daily life for the Palestinian population and making it impossible for humanitarian agencies to plan ahead. It is reported that the curfew in Hebron will be lifted daily from 7am to 7pm, as from 18 July, but there are no indications that this relative relaxation will apply to the other cities.
In Nablus, curfew was only lifted on 14 July, and final year students have still not completed their exams. In Bethlehem, curfew was lifted on two occasions, and in Ramallah and Tulkarm on three occasions this week. The IDF threw percussion bombs at individuals and stores which were still open beyond the curfew hours in Tulkarm on 17 July, and broke up a demonstration of locals and internationals in Ramallah the same day. Approximately 25 villages are also currently under curfew and movement for Palestinians throughout West Bank localities remains severely restricted, with people using dirt roads to avoid main roads and IDF checkpoints.
In Gaza, vehicular movement remains highly restricted. The crossing between Road No. 4 south of Gaza city and the by-pass road to Netzarim settlement has been closed since early May, with traffic diverted through the coastal road. Traffic between the central and southern parts of the Strip is channeled through Abu Houli checkpoint, all other roads being closed. Traffic through the checkpoint has improved recently, although it often remains difficult to cross as priority is given to the IDF and settlers.
The number of workers allowed into Israel on a daily basis increased last week, from approximately 750 to 1300, mainly in agriculture. Male workers must be over 30 years of age with a family: women, over 25 years old and also with a family. The number of workers at the Erez industrial zone has been stable at around 2,850 per day.
Two Palestinians were killed and 16 wounded over the last seven days. The total number of casualties in Gaza since the beginning of the Intifada is 661 and 9409 wounded. The IDF has continued bulldozing land around the settlements of Kfar Darom and Dugit as well as around the by-pass roads used by the settlers and the army. At least 45 dunums of agricultural land were bulldozed this week.
In the northern enclave of Seafa between the settlement of Dugit and Eli Sinai, a gate is opened every day from 6.30 to 8.30am and from 2 to 4pm. Access to nearby agricultural land has been denied to local farmers, with delays in harvesting crops.
Restrictions remain especially tight for the 12,000 residents of the Mawassi area in the southern Gaza Strip with those under 45 years of age forbidden to leave the area. Those registered Palestinian residents of the area who have been denied access over the last few weeks were allowed to re-enter this week.
West Bank localities currently under curfew see www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/ mapcentre.
UNWRA reports that their operations in the West Bank continue to be hampered due to curfews, closures and permits restrictions. UNRWA delivered 12 tons of lentils, 12 tons of rice, 12 tons of milk to Hebron warehouse, in addition to 18 tons of food commodities to Beit Ur. UNRWA also delivered 500 rations of food commodities to Kalandia camp.
In Bethany and Abu Deis UNRWA was able to deliver 800 food parcels to pregnant and nursing women, in addition to 600 food rations to nursing and pregnant women in Qateneh. On 15 and 16 July, UNWRA were unable to distribute food and relief aid in the Nablus area due to curfew.
The ICRC distributed food parcels and hygienic kits to 4936 families in the Qalqilya, Hebron and Jericho areas.
The curfew and closure regime is severely restricting patients' access to medical facilities and routine immunization programmes. The key finding of a recent USAID assessment indicates that Chronic and acute malnutrition is widespread among children under five years of age and increasing rapidly. 30% of children surveyed suffered from chronic malnutrition and 21% from acute malnutrition. These numbers have increased significantly since 2000 when only 7.5% and 2.5% of children suffered from chronic and acute malnutrition respectively. The findings also reveal that moderate to mild anemia is also evident. 45% of children under 5 years of age and 48% of women of childbearing age suffer from moderate to mild anemia.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that because of closures and curfews, its facilities operate at about 30% capacity. The ICRC is in the process of distributing surgical supplies in Tulkarm and Jenin. In addition, ICRC currently has three international surgeons working in Jenin, Tulkarm and Ramallah.
In Jenin, the removal of rubble from the devastated central area of the camp started this week, although curfews have hampered progress.
In Aroub camp on 14 July, the IDF damaged the water network which had just been repaired.
Meetings next week:
Wednesday 24, 10.00, Food Emergency Room. Contact: World Food Programme.
Thursday 25, 12.00, UN Humanitarian Steering Committee Meeting, UNRWA Jerusalem. Contact: OCHA.