The first day of the 72-hour cease-fire, which entered into force on 5 August at 08:00, has passed without serious incident, as negotiations continue under Egyptian mediation to reach a more permanent agreement. Markets and shops gradually resumed operating as Gaza residents overcome fears from the experience of previous, short-lived pauses. Municipal workers and service providers are clearing streets and rehabilitating and repairing infrastructure. Many of the displaced have returned to check if their homes are still inhabitable or their contents salvageable. Medical and rescue teams succeeded in reaching previously inaccessible area and to recover the dead from under the rubble. Of growing concern are the thousands of explosive remnants of war which are scattered throughout civilian areas, posing a major threat to children, farmers, IDPs returning home and humanitarian workers.
Most of the Gaza population has to cope with severe shortages in water and power services. Although Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) workers are now deployed in strength to assess and repair damaged feeder lines, rolling power cuts still extend up to 22 hours daily. Food availability remains limited due to the lack of electricity for refrigeration and lack of access to farmed land and to fishing waters for the past four weeks. Farmers and herders reports losses as they were unable to irrigate or harvest, with many livestock killed or left unfed and unattended. Aid agencies are consequently distributing food aid to displaced people in locations where assistance was severely obstructed by hostilities.
Hostilities and casualties
Rescue and medical teams have succeeded in recovering bodies from areas which have witnessed significant hostilities, including Ash Shuja'iyeh, Khuza'a and Rafah. Up to 08:00 on 6 August, the cumulative death toll among Palestinians was at least 1,849, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, including 279 persons (15 per cent), who could not be identified or their status established. Of the fatalities whose identity and status could be verified (1,570), (1,354 people) are believed to be civilians, including 415 children and 214 women, and nearly 14 per cent (216) members of armed groups.
The most serious incident recorded during the reporting period was the recovery of the badly decomposed bodies of eight members of the Wandan extended family from under the rubble of their home in Beit Hanoun. The dead included four women and three children who were believed to have been killed in an Israeli airstrike soon after the ground invasion on 17 July. Some members of the family managed to flee Beit Hanoun before the ground invasion, with some taking refuge in the house of Jameel Abu Al Qomsan in Jabalia Camp. However, this house was itself shelled by the Israeli air force on 3 August. Three other member of the Wandan family were killed in this attack, a man and two women; a two-year-old girl died later from her injuries. Eleven others were injured in this incident, including four children and three women, four in critical condition.
Pernille Ironside, Head of UNICEF office, Gaza.
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 968 houses have been totally destroyed or severely damaged in this manner, causing civilian casualties, including multiple members of the same families Up to 08:00 on 4 August, at least 122 families have lost three or more family members in the same incident, for a total of 652 fatalities. Such cases raise serious concerns about the targeting of civilians and civilian objects and the launching of indiscriminate attacks.
There were no reports of firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into Israel during the ceasefire. Since 8 July, three civilians in Israel had been killed, including one foreign national, and dozens directly injured by rockets or shrapnel. The total of Israeli military fatalities stands at 64.
As the ceasefire appears to be holding, IDPs are beginning to leave shelters and host families For the first time since the emergency began, the overall IDP number in UNRWA shelters decreased from almost 273,000 on 4 August to approximately 208,000 by the evening of 5 August, with a further decline to 187,000 by this morning. However, these numbers could rise again if IDPs fmd their homes uninhabitable or otherwise unsafe, or if hostilities resume. UNRWA is expecting that a core group of displaced, who have nowhere else to go, will remain in the schools which have been designated as shelters. Of most imminent concern is the start of the new school year, planned for 24 August 2014 as 90 of UNRWA's 156 school buildings are serving as shelters.
There is currently no update available on the number of IDPs outside UNRWA shelters. Approximately 16,000 IDPs were residing in 19 government schools and other institutions and another 13,000 in four UNRWA-supported government shelters. The Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) has registered about 20,600 displaced families (approximately 123,600 individuals) who are staying with relatives and friends. However, MoSA had estimated that there are as many as 93,000 unregistered IDPs with host families as many displaced in Rafah did not register due to the security situation. Thousands of Israelis who fled their homes in southern Israel are also waiting to see if the 72-hour truce leads to a more lasting ceasefire, before deciding to return to their homes.
Key humanitarian priorities
Prepare to activate assessments in the Gaza strip as soon as an extension of ceasefire is confirmed.
Humanitarian space: increased 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 UXOs in built up areas.
Additional fuel supply: 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.
Restoration of water and energy services to communities in Gaza.
Humanitarian needs and response
Gaps & Constraints
Assessments are ongoing and clusters are meeting to map needs and coordinate responses.
Mr. Shawqi Issa, Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Agriculture of the State of Palestine along with the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. James W. Rawley launched the 2014 Gaza Crisis Appeal which outlines the planned humanitarian response of the HCT, including UNRWA to the current emergency. The appeal is intended to address urgent needs in Gaza and currently requests US$ 367 million to implement 86 projects in clusters/sectors including Education, Food Security, Health and Nutrition, Protection, Shelter and WASH as well as Coordination and Support Services. The clusters/sectors requesting the largest amount of funds are Food Security and Shelter which are requesting a total of US$ 293 million together. The appeal is based on the latest analysis of the required emergency assistance to meet the most critical needs of the affected population and will be revised as further information from the ground becomes available and needs assessments become possible. The Crisis Appeal supersedes the estimates presented in the Gaza Crisis Preliminary Needs and Requirements paper of 24 July. The Crisis Appeal is available online at www.ochaopt.org.
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, seven project proposals were approved for a total of US$ 1.6 million 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; Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) emergency intervention to support the continuation of health services in the northern area of Gaza Strip by providing dedication fuel and consumables to Al Awda hospital, Dan Church Aid and PARC projects to provide food packages and hygiene kits to IDPs hosted in Shelters in Deir Al Balah ,Rafah and Khan Yunis; by and UNMAS' project for the management of ERW to reduce the risk posed to civilians. In addition, the following proposals are in process; a proposal by Palestinian Medical Relief Society — PMRC for Emergency Intervention (totalling US$ 249,845) to build community support teams in Gaza Strip; a proposal by Agricultural Development Association (PARC) to provide Safe Water for IDPs in Gaza for US$ 249,780; a proposal by B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories promoting respect for IHL and human rights: Gaza Crisis Appeal 2014 for US$ 48,732; a proposal by Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights for provision of legal assistance to Gazans seeking accountability and/or redress following Operation Protective Edge for US$ 175,000; and a proposal by MA'AN Development Center (MA'AN) as Emergency Reparation of WASH facilities in the Gaza Strip for US$ 275,000.
is under process. Further funding for the ERF is still being sought.
UN humanitarian agencies, in cooperation with NGO partners are in the process of finalizing 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:
Matthew Ryder, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 597 958 441
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.