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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 July 2014




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.

Highlights

  • An UNRWA school in Jabalia sheltering internally displaced persons (IDPs) was struck by Israeli shells, killing at least 15 people, including four children.
  • A four-hour humanitarian ceasefire was declared by the Israeli military but rejected by Hamas on the grounds that it did not extend to the entire Gaza Strip.
  • Incidents of multiple family member fatalities continue: at least 68 families have lost three or more family members in the same incident, totaling 360 fatalities.
  • The number of IDPs exceeds 240,000 in UNRWA schools and other public buildings. Up to 200,000 may be taking shelter with host families.
  • Gaza's sole power plant remains shut down after being shelled yesterday: the additional reduction in electricity supply is having an immediate impact on the public health situation, reducing WASH services.
  • Latest development: 18:00, 17 people were killed and hundreds injured in shelling of Ash Shuja'iyah market.










    Situation Overview

    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.

    After three weeks of conflict, no one can doubt that there are no safe places for the children of Gaza. Today, another UN school, used to shelter 3,300 displaced people was hit by Israeli shelling, despite clear information provided to the Israeli army from the UN that the school was housing IDPs. Civilians, including children, were killed and injured. I strongly condemn this grave violation of international law.
    Statement by Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, 30 July 2014.

    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:

  • At approximately 22:00 on 29 July, Israeli forces fired artillery shells in the vicinity of the Al Omari mosque in Jabalia. The shelling lasted until 00:40 this morning. As a result, fifteen people including six each from the Hamouda and Abed-Rabbo families were killed, including six children and five women.
  • At approximately 09: 00 on 30 July, Israeli forces fired two artillery shells at the house of Mohammed Atta Al Khalili in the At Tuffah neighbourhood, eastern Gaza City. One of the shells struck the room in which the family was having breakfast, killing seven of them, including three children and two women, one of whom was pregnant. Another child was critically injured.
  • At approximately 16: 00 on 30 July, Israeli forces opened artillery fire at the Al Faluja and Al Aqsaseeb neighbourhoods, killing 10 people from the Balata family, including five women and four children. Another 41 people were injured, including 17 children and five women.

    In the most serious such incident on 29 July, a four-storey apartment building owned by Karam Mohammed Al Dami, in Khan Youths city was hit in an IDF airstrike. The airstrike reportedly killed and injured almost all members of the five families living in the building and caused severe damage to surrounding buildings. By 14.00 today, rescue teams had recovered 35 dead bodies and 27 wounded persons from under the rubble of the building and the neighbouring houses. Several wounded persons were critically injured. Sixteen of the victims were from the Abu 'Amer family, seven from the Al Najjar family, six from the
    Breeka family, four from the Mu'ammar family, and two from families living in neighbouring houses

    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.

    Last night children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.... I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.... We have moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. We are in the realm of accountability. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.
    Statement by UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krithenbuhl, 30 July 2014.

    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.


    The Special Coordinator is deeply concerned about this incident and other violations of United Nations premises during the conflict and condemns the loss of civilian lives, including United Nations personnel, in these incidents.
    Statement by the United Nations Special Coordinator, Mr. Robert Serry, 30 July 2014.

    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.

    Displacement

    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.

    Update on Gaza Crossings:
    Erez: Open for humanitarian cases and pre-coordinated movement only.
    Beit Hanoun (Arba-Arba): Closed until further notice but still accessible.
    Kerem Shalom: The crossing was open on 30 July from 10:00 until 15:00. On 29 July, 43 truckloads of mostly food, water, medicine, blankets and hygiene kits entered Gaza through this crossing.
    Rafah: Open today from 9:00 to 15:00. A total of three injured Palestinians exited Gaza through this crossing. On 29 July, five truckloads of food supplies entered via Rafah.

    Humanitarian needs and response

    Protection

    Needs

  • At least 299,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS).
  • Child protection and psychosocial support is urgently required to address issues of child abuse, exploitation and violence inside shelters and refuges.
  • Thousands of explosive remnants of war are left in civilian areas affected by conflict, causing a major threat to children.

    Response

  • Protection Cluster members continue monitoring and investigating incidents to identify possible violations of international law, as well as consolidating information on civilian fatalities.
  • Since 8 July, emergency PSS teams and PRCS teams have been able to provide initial psychosocial support to 2,133 children across the Gaza Strip.
  • Since 20 July, 140,000 child protection and PSS text messages have been sent to Jawal subscribers in Gaza.
  • World Vision is providing PSS to children in hospitals and UNRWA shelters.
  • Since 18 July, Tamer has been conducting daily activities for children in their libraries.
  • UNRWA is providing basic unexploded ordnance (UXO) awareness in shelters. Gaps and Constraints
  • Ongoing hostilities continue to impede movement of child protection staff and emergency PSS teams, as well as access to basic services for children and their families.
  • Sawa Child Protection Help Line needs additional trained counsellors who can answer phone calls.
  • Due to the rapidly increasing need, the number of social workers and psychosocial support counsellors at hospitals is insufficient.
  • Displaced children and their families hosted with relatives remain largely unreached by child protection interventions.
  • Due to the precarious security environment and ongoing military operations, verification of information, in particular in regards to casualties, is difficult.

    Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI)

    Needs

  • Opening of government schools identified as potential shelters is required to accommodate new and expected IDPs.
  • 9,395 families (approximately 56,350 individuals) whose homes were totally destroyed or sustained major damage require emergency NFI kits. In the medium term, they will need cash assistance
  • NFI emergency shelter repair interventions are needed for about 4,735 families (28,400 individuals), whose homes sustained damage but are still inhabitable. 27,050 families (162,300 individuals), whose homes sustained minor damage also require basic NFI assistance.
  • Response
  • More than 200,300 people are being provided with shelter in 86 designated UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip and an estimated 12,000 individuals are sheltered in 16 government and private schools, and other facilities.
  • UNRWA delivered 29 truckloads of NFIs (including blankets, diapers, toilet paper and cleaning supplies) to IDPs in its emergency shelters.

    Gaps and Constraints

  • Cash assistance of over US$ 38 million is needed to allow 9,395 families to cover rental fees and urgent expenses.
  • Emergency shelter kits are required for 3,000 families.
  • Additional shelters for IDPs are required to reduce overcrowding at UNRWA schools and accommodate the needs of new IDPs displaced from communities who have received evacuation orders in the last 24 hours.

    Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

    Needs

  • With the shutdown of the GPP, additional fuel supply to run the water wells is a key priority.
  • The Deir al Balah Desalination Plant requires additional fuel to resume water pumping into the network.
  • Insecticides and medicines are needed in Rafah to treat epidemics such as lice and scabies, which started to spread in shelters
  • IDPs as well as communities disconnected from the municipal water supply need water tankering.

    Response

  • UNRWA, supported by local municipalities, is providing water tankering to IDPs in UNRWA shelters in areas where water pumping is currently not possible due to damaged or inaccessible WASH infrastructure. During the reporting period, UNRWA delivered mineral water as well as non-potable water (70,000 liters). Water tankering is provided to informal shelters as well.
  • On 29 July, UNRWA sanitation workers removed an estimated 267 tons of solid waste.
  • WASH cluster will coordinate with health authorities the treatment of epidemics in Rafah.

    Gaps and constraints

  • Additional funding is required to cover fuel supply to run back-up generators
  • The lack of safe access to water and sanitation facilities for maintenance and repair is the biggest constraint.
  • Most WASH facilities east of Salah ad Din road and in northern Gaza (buffer zone) have not been accessible for repairs, and are also likely to be inaccessible to water trucking due to the unsafe security situation.
  • UNRWA shelters are under great pressure as a result of overcrowding, without adequate WASH infrastructure in place to accommodate for the high number of IDPs.

    Health and Nutrition

    Needs


    Response
    Gaps and constraints
    Food Security

    Needs


    Response
    Education

    Needs


    Response

    NTR

    Gaps & Constraints


    General Coordination

    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.

    Funding

    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.





    Background to the crisis

    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, maes@un.org, +972 59 291 1047
    Yehezkel Lein, Head of Analysis, Communications and Protection Unit, OCHA oPt, lein@un.org, +972 54 331 1809

    For media enquiries, please contact:

    Hayat Abu-Saleh, Communications and Information Analyst, OCHA oPt, abusaleh@un.org, +972 (0) 54 3311816

    For more information, please visit www.ochaopt.org

    Endnote
    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.



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