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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
23 April 2008

Overview- Key Issues

Significant Increase in Child Casualties
The number of children killed by the IDF in the Gaza Strip during the first quarter of 2008 (40), exceeds the total number of children killed by the IDF in the Gaza Strip in the whole of 2007 (29). The total number of Palestinian child fatalities (28) in March due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the highest since November 2006, when 30 children were killed, the majority of whom were also in the Gaza Strip. March 2008 also recorded the highest monthly number of child injuries in the Gaza Strip since January 2005. In Israel, four Israeli children were killed and one injured in an attack by a Palestinian on a Jewish seminary (Yeshiva) in West Jerusalem. No other Israeli child deaths or injuries took place in the oPt. No Israeli children were killed in 2007 and two were killed in 2006. (For more details on child casualties, see Child Protection section herein.)

Marked Increase in West Bank Demolitions
IDF demolitions in the West Bank continued in March, at the same level recorded last month. Out of 42 demolished structures, 20 were residential and inhabited, 14 were animal barracks, two for storage purposes and six uninhabited and/or under-construction. 135 Palestinians were displaced, including 95 children. Structures demolished during the first quarter of 2008 (153) are equivalent to 80% of the total structures demolished in 2007 (191). (For more details, see Violence and Private Property section herein.)

Increased Restrictions on Humanitarian Access
UN operations were significantly affected by tightened Israeli movement restrictions on UN vehicles in March. More UN staff hours were lost due to access delays in March 2008 than in all of 2007. In particular, access into Jerusalem for UN staff entering from the south was extremely difficult. Almost daily, UN vehicles were delayed and/or turned back by Israeli soldiers demanding to search the vehicles, contrary to internationally recognized rules for UN access, which prohibit searches of UN vehicles. This change in access was focused on UN vehicles; NGOs contacted by OCHA report that they did not experience increased access difficulties in March. Restrictions on access for humanitarian staff into Gaza have also been further tightened. Permits to enter or exit Gaza are more difficult to obtain for national staff and, if obtained, are being issued for shorter periods of time. For example, instead of three month permits, some staff who obtain permits now find that they are given permission for a single crossing only. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also imposed new restrictions that limit the ability of international staff to obtain the “yellow card”, which confirms their status as staff of an international organization. This is required to be assured of an exit from Gaza. As a result, consultants and other international staff on short term contracts are reluctant to go to Gaza and their access has effectively been reduced. UN agencies are very concerned by these developments and the decreased respect they represent for humanitarian access for UN agencies.

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