Yesterday afternoon, following a short unilateral lull in the context of a failed ceasefire attempt, the Israeli army resumed hostilities in Gaza. Alongside intense bombardments, the Israeli military delivered text messages to virtually all the residents of Ash Shuja'iyya and Az Zaitun neighborhoods in eastern Gaza city, approximately 100,000 people, warning them to leave their homes by 8 am today (16 July), ahead of attacks to be launched in the area. Subsequently, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza reportedly instructed the residents to remain calm and not flee the area. Despite the generalized fear, as of today's afternoon, the vast majority decided to stay. Many of them reported that they feel there is no safe place to go to, or that they would be giving up their dignity by leaving their homes.
In contrast, in the past 24 hours, more residents of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun towns in northern Gaza have left their homes. Approximately 22,600 are being hosted in 24 UNRWA schools in Gaza City and Jabalia, compared to 18,000 yesterday, where they are provided with mattresses, water, hygiene kits, and evening meals of bread and tuna. Many reached the shelters on foot, after hours of walking with their belongings, as they could not find transportation or afford its costs. The relocation experience has been particularly traumatic for young children, the elderly and the disabled. Women have reported stress due to their inability to maintain basic modesty norms, with generally overcrowded spaces and mixed latrines.
In the meantime, the renewed attacks throughout Gaza, from the air, land and sea, have killed another 15 Palestinians in the last 24 hours, including at least two children and a woman. Among the fatalities was Subhi Abed Al-Hameed Hussein Mousa, a 78-year old farmer, killed on 15 July at around 15:00, when a missile hit an agricultural shed on his land, northwest of Khan Younis. Another farmer, Ismail Fatouh, 24-year old, was injured a few hours later during an airstrike in the Az Zaitun area, southeast of Gaza City, while reportedly irrigating his land, and died shortly after of his wounds.
These incidents bring the Palestinian fatality toll since the start of the emergency to 214. According to preliminary information, at least 77 percent (164 people) were civilians, including 44 children and 29 women, 18 per cent (38 people) were members of armed groups, and the status of the remainder (12 people) could not be determined.2 The large proportion of civilians among the fatalities continues to raise concerns about the respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack under international humanitarian law.
Indiscriminate firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza at Israeli population centres also continued during the past 24 hours. Rockets, reportedly shot from Sinai, also targeted for the first time the southern city of Eilat. The period witnessed the first Israeli death since 7 July — a 37 year old man (Dror Hanin) hit by mortar shrapnel, while visiting soldiers next to the border with Gaza. The Magen David Adom (MDA) Israel, reported that since the start of the emergency, MDA treated six people who were seriously or moderately injured (excluding the fatality) from shrapnel and fires caused by direct rocket strikes.
Humanitarian needs and response
The Inter Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) held an extraordinary meeting on 15 July in Jerusalem to discuss upcoming steps for the mobilization of additional resources, required to address the humanitarian needs emerging from the Gaza emergency. OCHA will consolidate a joint proposal, reflecting the priorities identified by the various clusters and sectors based on preliminary information, in advance of full assessments. The proposal will be presented at a Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) meeting scheduled for 17 July, with the participation of donors.
On 15 July, the Palestinian Cabinet decided to establish a unified emergency center to respond to the crisis and coordinate the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The Minister of Social Affairs (MoSA) has been tasked by the Prime Minister to lead this effort. Today the MoSA met the HC and OCHA to begin coordination of response and recovery efforts with the HCT team and its humanitarian response partners, both in Ramallah and in Gaza
A number of bilateral contributions have already been received from donors who have provided funding for urgent needs in the most critical sectors.
The 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the oPt has received US$ 168 million (43 per cent) out of a total request of US$390 million Nearly 90 per cent of 1.9 million vulnerable people targeted in the SRP are in Gaza. Gaza-specific projects have received just over 30% of their requested funding. The HCT is currently embarking on an exercise to identify the most urgent SRP projects that if funded would help support the response in Gaza, as well as any new needs to develop an initial cost estimate for the response.
The Emergency Response Fund (ERF), an additional mechanism available to fund interventions in Gaza, is in urgent need of replenishment to ensure the fund's ability to provide rapid and flexible support to affected civilian populations. The mobilization of resources through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is another channel that may be used to meet needs.
On 7 July 2014, the Israeli army launched a large military operation in the Gaza Strip, codenamed "Protective Edge", with the stated objective of stopping Palestinian rocket firing at southern Israel and destroying the military infrastructure of Hamas and other armed groups.
This development marked the collapse of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire understanding reached between Israel and Hamas in November 2012, which has been gradually undermined since December 2013. The latest escalation round started in early June, characterized by an intensification of Israeli airstrikes and rockets launched from Gaza at southern Israel. Tensions further increased following the abduction and killing of three Israeli youths in the southern West Bank, on 12 June, which the Israeli government attributed to Hamas. Overall, in the period leading up to the start of the current operation a total of 15 Palestinians, including one civilian, were killed, and another 58 others, mostly civilians, injured, as a result of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip; seven Israelis, five of whom were civilians, were injured due to rocket fire.
The current crisis comes against a backdrop of heightened vulnerability and instability. Unemployment increased dramatically since mid-2013, following a halt of the illegal tunnel trade, exacerbating the impact of the Israeli blockade in place since June 2007. Additionally, former de facto government employees, including the security forces, have not been paid salaries regularly since August 2013 and no salaries at all since April 2014. Delivery of basic services has been also undermined due to an ongoing energy crisis, involving power outages of 12 hours per day.
For further information, please contact:
Katleen Maes, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 59 291 1047
Yehezkel Lein, Head of Analysis, Communications and Protection Unit, OCHA oPt, email@example.com, +972 54 331 1809
For media enquiries, please contact:
Hayat Abu-Saleh, Communications and Information Analyst, OCHA oPt, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 (0) 54 3311816
For more information, please visit www.ochaopt.org
'Data on injuries is provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.
2 Data on fatalities and destruction of property is consolidated by the Protection and Shelter clusters based on preliminary information, and is subject to change based on further verifications.