On the 10th of January, 2002, the Israel Defense Forces launched a pre-dawn military operation in Block 'O' of the Rafah refugee camp that lasted for over two hours. Two IDF bulldozers, accompanied by several Armoured Personnel Carriers and tanks, completely demolished 54 refugee shelters in the camp thus rendering 80 refugee families (450 persons) homeless. The operation also led to the destruction of 4 homes belonging to non-refugees, thus affecting an additional 4 families (47 persons). In addition, 4 refugee shelters housing 10 refugee families (59 persons) were partially damaged in the operation.
UNRWA immediately surveyed the demolition site and conducted a needs assessment of the affected refugees. Following this assessment, the Agency provided immediate cash assistance of over $57,000 and provided essential items to the refugees such as tents (80), mattresses (450), blankets (450), mats (160) and food parcels (80). The Agency is following up the future needs of the affected refugee families to better focus its emergency assistance.
On the 12th of January, the Israel Defense Forces carried out a second pre-dawn military operation in Block 'J' of the Rafah refugee camp, and used heavy explosives. 19 shelters were heavily damaged rendering 21 families homeless, and a further 97 shelters were partially damaged needing repairs.
UNRWA relief and technical teams are presently involved in assessing the damage to the refugee shelters to enable immediate provision of relief assistance.
The Agency would like to clarify that the occupancy rate of the refugee shelters that were demolished, otherwise rendered unusable or requiring repairs was 90%.