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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
18 December 2006
1. Israeli-Palestinian hostilities intensified in early November, with a major Israel Defense Forces (IDF) incursion into Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. The operation resulted in high numbers of civilian casualties including women and children and extensive damage to personal property as well as infrastructure. On 26 November, following five months of increasing hostilities, a ceasefire was declared calling for an end to all IDF military operations in the Gaza Strip and the firing of homemade rockets by Palestinian groups into Israel. At the end of November, the fragile ceasefire continued to hold, despite the firing of ten homemade rockets into Israel by Palestinians.
2. Violence also affected the olive harvest season in the West Bank. The extremely good olive production season was marred by incidents involving the denial of access to Palestinian farming land close to settlements in the West Bank, attacks by Israeli settlers on farmers and their property and delays and denials of access at Barrier gates by IDF soldiers for farmers wanting to access their land in the closed areas between the Barrier and the Green Line. In the southern West Bank, the olive harvest was affected by the continued drought and access restrictions placed on farmers cultivating their land throughout the year which led to low yields. The overall income from the 2006 season is expected to reach $124 million (compared to $30 million in 2005) and will contribute to the livelihoods of up to 100,000 Palestinian farming families
3. On 7 November, an agreement was reached between the Minister of Education & Higher Education (MoEHE) and its staff and all schools reopened on 11 November following more than two months of closure due to strike actions. The agreement guaranteed the payment to the staff of an immediate 1,000 NIS and the rest of the November salaries to be paid by the end the month. On 21 November, the MoEHE also officially requested its entire 18 Educational Directorates not to deny children from attending school even if their families had failed paying the school fees. Despite the positive developments with striking education workers, the PA institutional crisis remains at the centre of the current humanitarian situation with PA ministries and the service they provide functioning at minimum levels.1 As of 30 November, the PA has operated with only 34.3% of its 2005 revenue.
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