The 72-hour-ceasefire that entered into force on 5 August expired this morning at 08:00, without agreement reached on a further extension or a more permanent arrangement, despite intensive Egyptian mediation efforts. The ceasefire deadline was followed by the renewal of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and subsequently by Israeli artillery fire and airstrikes on Gaza.
Many internally displaced persons (IDPs) had taken advantage of the three-day lull in hostilities to leave emergency shelters and host families As of 17:50 on 7 August, UNRWA was sheltering 166,527 people in 90 schools, down from a peak of 273,000 on 4 August. Another 29,212 IDPs were residing in 28 government schools and other institutions (including eight schools supported by UNRWA). There is no update available on the number of IDPs who were taking shelter with host families. An estimated 10,800 homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair over the course of hostilities, leaving some 65,000 people homeless, in addition to 33,100 others whose homes will require major repairs, and another 185,700 individuals whose homes sustained minor damage. It is expected that with the resumption of hostilities the number of IDPs seeking safe spaces will climb again, placing additional strain on the already overstretched capacity of humanitarian agencies to provide shelter, food and water.
The 72-hour lull had facilitated the repair and resumption of essential infrastructure. Although the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) remains inoperable following an Israeli airstrike on 29 July, eight of the ten electricity feeder lines from Israel to Gaza are now working. However efforts to repair the remaining two lines, which require extensive repairs, are uncertain with the end of the ceasefire. Although the supply of power has increased, the grid is damaged in many locations, with the result that most areas in the Gaza Strip still do not receive electricity for more than three-four hours a day. Localities in the middle area, which depended exclusively on the GPP, are without electricity entirely.
The strike on the GPP also had a devastating impact on water and sanitation facilities throughout Gaza. Technical teams from the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) have been deployed at full capacity to repair and operate previously inaccessible facilities. The Head of the CMWU estimated that by the end of the current ceasefire, water supply to half of the population could be restored which would provide households with water for several hours every five days. Three water pumps were delivered on 6 august and water bladders are waiting to enter. Ten generators donated by Israel to the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) will be deployed to various facilities, including water pumping stations.
The existence of thousands of explosive remnants of war in civilian areas is a major concern, especially regarding children, farmers, IDPs returning home and humanitarian workers. Areas up to three kilometres from Gaza's perimeter fence (44 per cent of the Gaza Strip), which were declared as a "buffer zone" for the duration of the Israeli ground incursion, are considered particularly dangerous. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has begun assessing critical UN facilities in this area to allow for the resumption of activities there. Mine Risk Education (MRE) information campaigns are already underway and are prioritizing returnees (particularly children) in key areas and identification and clearance of UXO/ERW is underway in some areas.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza is planning to refer more patients to hospitals outside Gaza to access life-saving treatment as well as to reduce the case load in Gaza hospitals to a more manageable level. The average number of referrals per month is 1,250 patients, primarily seeking treatment in the main East Jerusalem specialty hospitals and in West Bank hospitals. The lack of security for patients to travel to Erez crossing and the chaotic situation of referral procedures reduced the number in July to about 20 per cent of normal levels. Makassed Hospital, the main referral hospital in East Jerusalem for Gaza patients, has reported receiving only 30 patients from Gaza since 7 July.
The reproductive and maternal health situation in Gaza remains critical. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that nearly 46,000 women in Gaza are pregnant, with 10,000 of them displaced. The Ministry of Health reports that some 160 deliveries take place each day. Women are giving birth under increasingly difficult conditions. Maternity clinics have been closed, as are a number of private maternity centres. Other facilities are overstrained. In some, maternity beds are being used to serve the wounded. Shifa Hospital has reported a 15 to 20 per cent increase in premature births, which are linked to the stress of hostilities. Home deliveries are reportedly on the rise, increasing the risks for women and their babies.
Hostilities and casualties
Since the last situation update, with the ceasefire holding, the Protection Cluster recorded no further persons killed or injured. However, search and rescue operations to locate bodies continued and the ceasefire has allowed a number of organizations to carry out more information gathering and for numbers to be updated. This has resulted in an additional 53 fatalities recorded over the last 24 hours of persons killed before the last situation update, either because their bodies were recovered (25); because people have died from their wounds (12), or through late reporting. Of these, 39 were civilians, including 14 children and 10 women.
This brings the cumulative death toll among Palestinians to at least 1,922, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, including 297 persons who could not be yet identified or their status established. Of the fatalities whose identity and status could be verified, 1,407 (approximately 73 per cent of total fatalities) are believed to be civilians, including 448 children and 235 women. Some 218 have been identified as members of armed groups. The fatalities include eleven UNRWA staff members. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, as of 17:00 on 6 August, 9,806 Palestinians, including 2,979 children and 1,903 women and 356 elderly, had been injured.
There were no reports of firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into Israel during the ceasefire. Since 8 July, three civilians in Israel have been killed, including one foreign national, and dozens directly injured by rockets or shrapnel. The total of Israeli military fatalities stands at 64.
Key humanitarian priorities
Humanitarian space: increased access for humanitarian workers to carry out life-saving activities, should be maintained, among other reasons, to complete search and rescue operations in several areas, and repair critical water and electricity infrastructure. Removal of the threat of numerous UXOs in built up areas is vital.
Joint needs assessments: must be launched in the coming days to inform interventions by humanitarian organizations. This is contingent on an extension of the ceasefire.
Additional fuel supply: needed to operate backup generators at essential facilities, including water, sanitation and health, for longer hours.
Strengthen response to IDPs: improving priority response to IDPs in non-UNRWA facilities and with host families; ensuring common standards of response to IDPs throughout the Gaza strip, including comprehensive and common registration.
Erez: Open for movement with prior coordination according to normal operation hours.
Belt Hanoun (Arba-Arba): Open and staffed on 7 August. However, today after the end of the ceasefire, it closed.
Kerem Shalom: During the 72-hour ceasefire, the number of trucks entering increased, with 243 truckloads entering on Tuesday, 236 truckloads on Wednesday and 254 truckloads on Thursday.
Rafah: Open on 7 August with 550 dual national and 17 patients departing Gaza and three recovering patients returning to Gaza
The Humanitarian Needs and Response section will be included in tomorrow's situation report.
Mr. Shawqi Issa, Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Agriculture of the State of Palestine along with the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. James W. Rawley launched the 2014 Gaza Crisis Appeal which outlines the planned humanitarian response of the HCT, including UNRWA to the current emergency. The appeal is intended to address urgent needs in Gaza and currently requests US$ 367 million to implement 86 projects in clusters/sectors including Education, Food Security, Health and Nutrition, Protection, Shelter and WASH as well as Coordination and Support Services. The clusters/sectors requesting the largest amount of funds are Food Security and Shelter which are requesting a total of US$ 293 million together. The appeal is based on the latest analysis of the required emergency assistance to meet the most critical needs of the affected population and will be revised as further information from the ground becomes available and needs assessments become possible. The Crisis Appeal supersedes the estimates presented in the Gaza Crisis Preliminary Needs and Requirements paper of 24 July. The Crisis Appeal is available online at www.ochaopt.org.
The Emergency Response Fund (ERF) is an additional mechanism available to fund interventions in Gaza through rapid and flexible support to affected civilian populations. The ERF has begun processing project applications in regards to the Gaza emergency. To date, seven project proposals were approved for a total of US$ 1.6 million ACF's two projects to provide emergency shelter and NFIs and water, sanitation and hygiene to affected families; Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) project to support for the emergency needs of neonatal units in Gaza hospitals by procurement of essential drugs and disposables; Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) emergency intervention to support the continuation of health services in the northern area of Gaza Strip by providing dedication fuel and consumables to Al Awda hospital, Dan Church Aid and PARC projects to provide food packages and hygiene kits to IDPs hosted in Shelters in Deir Al Balah ,Rafah and Khan Yunis; by and UNMAS' project for the management of ERW to reduce the risk posed to civilians.
In addition, the following proposals are in process; a proposal by Palestinian Medical Relief Society — PMRC for Emergency Intervention (totalling US$ 249,845) to build community support teams in Gaza Strip; a proposal by Agricultural Development Association (PARC) to provide Safe Water for IDPs in Gaza for US$ 249,780; and a proposal by MA'AN Development Center (MA'AN) as Emergency Reparation of WASH facilities in the Gaza Strip for US$ 275,000, a proposal by UNDP for Emergency Support to the Electricity Sector due to Damages in the Gaza Strip through the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO) for US$ 250,000, a proposal by Union of Agricultural work Committees (UAWC) for Emergency Support for families in informal shelters in Gaza for US$ 238,707 are under process. Further funding for the ERF is under process. Further funding for the ERF is still being sought.
UN humanitarian agencies, in cooperation with NGO partners are in the process of finalizing an application to the CERF Rapid Response window covering urgent needs in food assistance, psychosocial support, WASH, rubble removal and critical drugs.
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:
Matthew Ryder, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 597 958 441
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
1Data 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.