This report is produced by OCHA oPt in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 29 July (1500 hrs) to 30 July (1500 hrs). The next report will be issued on 31 July.
The Gaza emergency entered its 23rd day resulting in increasing civilian casualties, the widespread destruction of residential buildings and public infrastructure and a continuing rise in internally displaced persons (IDPs). A humanitarian pause was unilaterally declared by the Israeli army between 15:00 and 19:00 in those areas of Gaza where their forces were not engaged in hostilities; this was rejected by Hamas on the grounds that it did not extend to the entire Gaza Strip and the pause was characterized by continuing hostiles, including the shelling of Ash Shuja'iyah market.
A strike on the UNRWA school in Jabalia, killing at least 15 people including four children, is at least the sixth incident in which an UNRWA school has been hit. Repeated attacks on shelters are causing widespread fear among IDPs and UNRWA staff as the security environment deteriorates further. Palestinians in Gaza increasing feel that there is no safe place to shelter, that that the UN cannot protect them, even when the precise coordinates of shelters are communicated to the Israeli army. In total, 136 schools (49 public schools and 87 UNRWA schools) have been affected by shelling due to their close proximity to targeted sites.
Of particular concern is the damage sustained by the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), which has brought the operation of the plant to a halt. Gaza city is receiving electricity for about two hours a day, while localities in the Middle Area have no supply at all. This is having an immediate effect on the public health situation, reducing water and sanitation services which depend on main electric lines, and creating greater dependence of hospitals on generator power.
Hostilities and casualties
Since the last situation report, at least 103 persons, many of whose status remains to be verified, have reportedly been killed or their bodies recovered. This brings the cumulative death toll among Palestinians to at least 1,263, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources. This includes at least 852 civilians; including 249 children and 135 women, 181 members of armed groups and 230 persons whose status is yet unknown. Civilians now make up 68 per cent of all casualties but this proportion will most likely rise when the 'unknown status' category is clarified. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 6,233 Palestinians, including 1,949 children and 1,169 women, had been injured as at 12.00 a.m. on 27 July.
Since the launch of the Israeli military operation, hundreds of homes have reportedly been directly targeted by Israeli airstrikes, and it is estimated that at least 816 houses have been totally destroyed or severely damaged, causing civilian casualties. Human rights organizations have expressed serious concerns regarding incidents where civilians or civilian objects have been directly hit by Israeli airstrikes, in circumstances where there was allegedly no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity. Such cases raise concerns about the targeting of civilians, in violation of the principle of distinction.
Of particular concern is the alarming number of incidents since the onset of the emergency in which multiple members of the same family have been killed. To 29 July, at least 68 families have lost three or more family members in the same incident, for a total of 360 fatalities; 140 men, 73 women and 147 children.
Of concern in the reporting period:
UN staff and facilities
In the most serious incident to date affecting UN installations, at proximately 04:30 on 30 July, the Jabalia Elementary Girls' School, in which 3,300 people were taking shelter, was struck a minimum of three times. At least 15 people were killed, including four children. Following an analysis of fragments, craters and other damage, UNRWA's initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery which struck the school. The precise location of the school and the fact that it was housing thousands of IDPs were communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, the last being just hours before the fatal shelling. The Israeli authorities are investigating the incident.
Also in Jabalia on 29 July, an UNRWA staff member was killed while driving in an UNRWA vehicle. Earlier that day, two UNRWA staff members died when an explosive projectile struck a private home in Nuseirat camp. Seven UNRWA local staff members have been killed since 7 July. The compound of the UN Special Coordinator's Office (UNSCO) in Gaza was also struck by a number of projectiles early in the morning of 29 July. Damage was caused to the main building and to UN vehicles, but UNSCO security personnel working from a safe room in the compound were unharmed. The UNSCO compound was also damaged during the "Cast Lead" offensive in 2008/9.
Indiscriminate firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into southern and central Israel continued, with most falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome system, resulting in no additional civilian fatalities. During the reporting period, another three Israeli soldiers were killed, bringing to 56 the number of Israeli military fatalities since the beginning of the ground offensive on 17 July. Since 8 July, three civilians in Israel have been killed, including one foreign national, and a few dozen directly injured by rockets or shrapnel.
UNRWA is currently providing shelter to almost 220,000 persons in 86 shelters throughout the Gaza Strip. An average of nearly 2,400 IDPs are taking refuge in each of the UNRWA schools, which normally have the capacity to accommodate only 500 people. During the reporting period, one of the Jabalia schools accommodated an additional 4,000 IDPs, bringing the total number of IDPs to 9,400.
Shelters are under great pressure, without adequate water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure in place, raising concern about the outbreak of epidemics. UNRWA warns that it does not have the capacity to absorb an increasing IDP influx. The remaining empty UNRWA school buildings are either inaccessible or unsafe, and other shelter solutions, including tents, are not viable options for Gaza. With the emergency entering its fourth week, there are concerns of a disease outbreak given the lack of proper water and sanitation facilities in the designated shelters. It is also becoming increasingly unlikely that the new school year will start as scheduled on 24 August.
It is estimated that another 12,000 IDPs are residing in 13 government schools and other institutions; 7,000 IDPs are reportedly seeking refuge in public buildings/ informal shelters; and 18,000 individuals are registered by the Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) as staying with host families. However, MoSA estimates that the number of persons staying with host families throughout the Gaza Strip could be as many as 200,000. The total number of IDPs throughout Gaza could therefore exceed 400,000, but the exact figure is unknown.
Public infrastructure and services
Gaza's sole power plant remains shut down after being shelled on 29 July. According to the Palestinian Energy Authority, repairs could take months to complete, exacerbating the Gazan electricity crisis. This will affect private households, companies
and public services provision, including water, sanitation and health facilities. Hospitals will depend more heavily on their own diesel-powered generators, which are not adequate to power services for extended periods. Previously, hospital generators have burned out with extensive use, and power fluctuations damage finely calibrated medical equipment. Shifa hospital, for example, is able to provide full power for its operating theatres but cuts its non-essential, but still needed services, in other areas.
The new medical building of Al Quds hospital operated by the Palestinian Red Crescent was damaged on July 30. Their former hospital building was destroyed during the "Cast Lead" offensive in 2008/9. The hospital is a general medical services and diagnostics centre, located in a southern neighbourhood of Gaza city.
Key humanitarian priorities
Protection of civilians: ensuring respect for the IHL principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack.
Humanitarian space: increased access for humanitarian workers to carry out life-saving activities, for example, through regular and meaningful humanitarian pauses or corridors for the evacuation of the injured. This is needed among other reasons, to complete search and rescue operations in several areas, and repair critical water and electricity infrastructure.
Additional fuel supply: needed to operate backup generators at essential facilities, including water, sanitation and health, for longer hours.
Scale up response to IDPs: additional shelters are needed to reduce overcrowding and accommodate new IDPs, alongside the replenishment of food, water and hygiene materials, and NFI stocks. Assistance for IDPs living with host families also needs to be increased, particularly the provision of NFIs and water and hygiene kits.
Humanitarian needs and response
Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI)
Gaps and Constraints
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
Gaps and constraints
Health and Nutrition
Gaps & Constraints
The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues its daily meetings, focusing primarily on the coordination of the IDP response and challenges related to humanitarian space OCHA is preparing for the HCT Gaza Crisis Appeal with MOPAD. The Launching of the humanitarian appeal is scheduled for 1 August, in Ramallah.
OCHA, UNRWA, Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoElfE), Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS) and Internal Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continue the coordination of opening up additional government schools for IDP shelters.
A number of bilateral contributions have already been received from donors who have provided funding for urgent needs in the most critical sectors. Based on latest cluster/sector analysis, after 10 days of hostilities it was estimated that US $69 million is now needed for immediate assistance in Gaza, excluding UNRWA's requirements. Three weeks later, in view of the dire consequences for the civilian population of the hostilities and the increase of needs clusters have also made a latest estimate so far of more than US $170 million that will be reflected in the Gaza Crisis Appeal being developed by the Humanitarian Country Team, scheduled for 1 August. The appeal will address urgent humanitarian needs resulting from the conflict. The appeal once finalized will supersede earlier HCT estimates.
UNRWA has issued its own emergency flash appeal which was revised up to US $115 million The amount requested will help UNRWA respond to the urgent needs of the currently, 159,000 IDPs taking shelter in its facilities, while replenishing emergency supplies and preparing for vital interventions necessary after a cessation of military activities.
The 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the oPt has received US$ 170 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 32 per cent of their requested funding.
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. Thus far, a proposal by Union of Health Work Committees — UHWC for Emergency Intervention,(totaling US$ 250,000) to guarantee health services in the Northern area of Gaza Strip, is being processed. . To date, five project proposals were approved: 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,; Dan Church Aid project to provide food packages and hygiene kits to IDPs hosted in Shelters in Rafah and Khan Yunis; by and UNMAS' project for the management of ERW to reduce the risk posed to civilians. A number of donors have come forward with expressions of interest or pledges for the ERF; thus far, Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Ireland have pledged US$ 1,002,369 and US$ 1,480,166 and US$ 402,130 and US$ 201,289 respectively. Further funding for the ERF is still being sought.
UN humanitarian agencies, in cooperation with NGO partners are fmalizing 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:
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
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.