A series of negotiated ceasefires, stretching over nine days in total, ended yesterday before the midnight deadline, with rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel and the Israeli military striking targets in Gaza. Hostilities continued overnight and into today, resulting in additional Palestinian fatalities and property damage. There has been an increase in the number of internally displaced as Palestinians, in particular from the northern and eastern areas of Gaza, seeking a safe place in emergency shelters.
Hostilities and casualties
Twenty-two fatalities have been recorded in the reporting period, comprising 17 new deaths and five who succumbed to injuries sustained earlier. Eleven of these have been classified as civilians and the status of the others is unknown.
This brings the cumulative death toll among Palestinians since 7 July to at least 1,999, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, including 334 persons who could not be yet identified or their status established. Of the initially verified cases, 1,434 are believed to be civilians, including 467 children and 244 women, and 231 members of armed groups. According to the World Health Organization, as of 17:00 on 12 August, 10,193 Palestinians, including 3,084 children, 1,970 women and 368 elderly, were injured.
The number of child fatalities exceeds the combined number of children killed in the two previous conflicts in Gaza, 350 in 2008-9 and 35 in 2012. An estimated 1,000 children injured will suffer from a disability for life, and a further 6,000 children will have a parent with a life-long disability. Based on the total number of adults killed, there may be up to 1,500 children orphaned.
The cumulative number of housing units destroyed or severely damaged (including those directly targeted or affected as collateral damage) is estimated at 17,200, nearly 270 per cent higher than the equivalent figure recorded during the "Cast Lead Operation" in 2008/9 (approx. 6,400). The number of units that sustained minor or major damage, but are still inhabitable, is estimated at 37,650.
No additional Israeli casualties were reported as a result of the renewal of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, with most projectiles landing in open areas or intercepted in the air. Since 8 July, three civilians in Israel have been killed, including one foreign national, and dozens directly injured by rockets or shrapnel. The total number of Israeli military fatalities remains at 64.
As of yesterday afternoon, there were 238,564 IDPs hosted in 82 designated UNRWA schools, 26,085 IDPs in seven government shelters supported by UNRWA and another 10,241 in 11 government schools not assisted by UNRWA. Nearly 134,660 IDPs residing with host families have been registered and reached by various partners. However, it is anticipated that with the resumption of hostilities, more people will return to designated shelters or to host families.
Dedicated health teams have continued working in all UNRWA shelters and compile a daily health surveillance report to prevent a large scale outbreak of diseases. The report now includes 16 health issues of concern, up from an initial nine. Pending a lasting ceasefire, which will allow the UNRWA engineers to undertake shelter assessments, it is estimated that about 100,000 Palestinians have lost their homes through destruction or serious damage. Based on these figures, UNRWA is expecting some 65,000 to 70,000 Palestinian to stay in its schools as long-term displaced, and is urgently looking for donors who can support cash assistance to cover rental expenses to enable these individuals to rebuild their lives.
Infrastructure and services
Up to 15 August, at least 216 schools in Gaza, including 141 government schools, 75 UNRWA schools, and four
private/kindergarten schools, were partially damaged due to Israeli airstrikes or shelling. At least 25 schools were reportedly severely damaged, to the extent that they can no longer be used. Two Israeli schools have been damaged by rocket fire from Gaza.
UNRWA estimates that 108 installations, in total, have been damaged since 8 July. Of these, 62 have been inspected by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), with 59 installations cleared for UNRWA engineers to conduct assessments. With thousands of unexploded weapons scattered across the Gaza Strip, unexploded ordnance (UXO) is posing an increasing threat to the population. The continuing of hostilities will both delay clearance campaigns and add to the overall UXO risk.
Almost the entire population of Gaza (around 1,800,000) has been affected by the conflict and requires food and other assistance to recover. The exceptional one-off food distribution by UNRWA, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the MoSA, targeting families who do not regularly receive food assistance, has so far reached around 375,000 out of a targeted 730,000. The resumption of hostilities puts food distribution activities at risk.
Key humanitarian priorities:
Humanitarian space: 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 UXO in built up areas is vital.
Joint needs assessments: the first phase initial rapid needs assessment, covering the governorate level, was launched on 13 August to inform responses by humanitarian organizations. The second phase, covering the municipal level, began on 18 August and was completed yesterday. Information collected will be collated and analysed to determine the overall level of humanitarian needs.
Additional fuel supply: fuel is 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.
Humanitarian needs and response
Updates to this section will be provided on Friday, 22 August.
Health and Nutrition
The first phase of the joint rapid needs assessment, led by the EOC started on 13 August, and data analysis in ongoing. The second phase of the joint rapid needs assessment started on 18 August, covering 19 municipalities (some 80 assessment staff were involved and at least 250 key informants interviewed, including youth, persons with disabilities and elderly). The remaining six municipalities were covered on 19 August and the eight refugee camps will be covered as soon as the situation allows. Data collected will be entered on tablets and linked directly to a database. The information will be subsequently validated and analysed, before it is disseminated. Protection and gender concerns have been integrated throughout the process as have questions on the information needs of affected communities.
Since its activation, the Logistics Cluster has facilitated the transportation of over 1,200 pallets of humanitarian relief supplies via 47 trucks from the West Bank on behalf of 17 humanitarian organisations for distribution within the Gaza Strip.
Based on available information, funding to the Gaza Crisis Appeal stands at US $124 million out of a total request of US $367 million (34 per cent), of this US $96 million is for UNRWA, US $20 million for WFP and US $8 million for others, leaving large gaps to respond in other critical sectors such as Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Education and Shelter and Non Food Items. Many key UN and NGOs partners identified for the Gaza response have received little to no funding to date for their projects in the Crisis Appeal. The Crisis Appeal is available online at www.ochaopt.org.
Donors and recipient agencies are kindly requested to report funding received to email@example.com.
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, thirteen project proposals were approved for a total of US $3.1 million Further funding for the ERF is still being sought.
UN humanitarian agencies, in cooperation with NGO partners have applied to the CERF Rapid Response window to cover urgent needs in food assistance, psychosocial support, WASH, rubble removal and critical drugs, and the request is under processing by CERF.
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:
Ms. Katleen Maes, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 592 911 047
Mr. Ray Dolphin, Analysis, Communications and Protection Unit, OCHA oPt, email@example.com, +972 54 331 1827
For media enquiries, please contact:
Ms.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.
2UNRWA has revised its damaged schools estimate from 90 to 75 buildings. The change was in part due to many schools operating in double shifts under different names.