Since the escalation in Palestinian-Israeli violence on 16 May,a total of 53 Palestinians including five children have been killed and 185 injured including 10 children. Over the same period, two Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers have been injured in Gaza, and two Israeli civilians killed, 18 injured and scores more have required treatment for shock and trauma from Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian militants into Israel
Impact of Israeli Air Attacks and Military Ground Movements:
Since 16 May, a total of 68 Israeli air strikes have been directed at Palestinian targets in Gaza. An intense period of attacks occurred between 24 and 27 May, when 30 air strikes were launched into the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Air Force (IAF), killing 7 Palestinians including one bystander, and injuring a further 35, including a number of bystanders. The number of air attacks has dropped significantly in the last three days, with six attacks in total.
IAF air strikes are mainly directed at training camps and premises used by Hamas and its affiliated Executive Support Forces (ESF), however properties in the surrounding areas have also been destroyed and damaged. In the course of the last week, three UNRWA installations have been damaged, including a warehouse in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, and a girl’s school in Jabalia in northern Gaza.
Until today, the IDF is holding positions inside the Gaza Strip in three places; 800 metres inside the former Erez industrial zone on high ground overlooking the main Salah ed Din street (since 19 May); 700 metres inside Palestinian lands north east of Beit Hanoun (since 17 May) and positions in and around the former settlement of Dugit, inside the former northern settlement block (since 17 May). While Palestinian families are restricting their movements in these areas, no formal curfew has been imposed by the IDF and there are no reports of emerging humanitarian needs.
Impact of Palestinian Militant Firing of Qassam Rockets Towards Israel
Overall 321 Qassam rockets have been fired towards Israel by Palestinian militants since 15 May.
Palestinian militias continue to fire Qassam rockets and mortars towards Israeli residents living in the Sderot and the Gaza envelope areas. While the number of rockets and mortars being fired towards Israel has reduced in the last week, approximately 15 rockets per day are still being launched, causing additional property damage, and disruption to the lives of thousands of Israelis.
Forty percent of the population of Sderot (23,000) is reported to have left the town over the course of the last two weeks. Schools have been badly affected and the Mayor of Sderot requested last weekend that the school year be brought to a close one month earlier. While this move was rejected by the Israeli Ministry of Education, Israeli media reported on 28 May that only 800 out of a total of 3000 pupils had turned up to schools in Sderot.
Palestinian internal violence
With the exception of a small number of isolated incidents the cease-fire agreed between Hamas and Fatah on 19 May continues to hold. Due to a number of subsequent deaths from injuries sustained during the week of internal fighting between 13 and 19 May, the total number of Palestinians killed has risen to 61, while a further 276 were injured during the factional conflict.
Access and Movement:
Karni crossing, the main crossing point for the passage of commercial goods and humanitarian supplies in and out of the Gaza Strip, has been open in the last week. On 17 May, however, the crossing reduced its operating hours from 13.5 hours to 9 hours per day (9am – 6pm). The hours were reduced at the instruction of the Israeli authorities due to concerns of the deteriorating internal security situation, including the killing of seven members of the Palestinian National Security forces by Hamas in an ambush close to the crossing on 15 May.
Rafah crossing, the only crossing point linking the Gaza Strip to the outside world for the majority of the 1.4 million population, was opened on 25, 26 and 30 May, allowing a total of 3924 people to enter Gaza and 4359 to leave. Rafah crossing was open for a total of seven days throughout May.
Erez crossing has remained open throughout the period of factional fighting and Palestinian-Israeli violence, allowing the movement into Israel of traders, medical referrals and Palestinians working for international organizations. The crossing has remained closed to Palestinian workers since 12 March 2006.