This report is produced by OCHA oPt in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 21 July (1500 hrs) to 22 July (1500 hrs). The next report will be issued on 23 July.
The casualty toll among Palestinian civilians continues to increase, as the Gaza emergency enters its third week and the Israeli ground offensive continues for the fifth consecutive day. Since the launch of the latter over 120,000 have fled their homes and a three kilometer-wide strip, encompassing 44 per cent of Gaza's territory, has been declared by the Israeli military a 'buffer zone'.
Hostilities and casualties
Since the last situation update, 120 persons have been reported killed or their bodies recovered from under the rubble in Ash Shuja'iyeh neighborhood, including 26 children and 15 women. Many residents of Ash Shuja'iyeh are reportedly still missing, believed to be buried under the rubble, in areas that have not been accessible.
The killing of multiple members of the same families as a result of the targeting of homes became increasingly frequent in the past few days, with at least five families (36 individuals) almost completely erased during the previous reporting period alone. Human rights organizations have estimated that since the start of the emergency, the Israeli military targeted and destroyed or severely damaged over 530 residential properties, including many multi-storey buildings, causing civilian casualties and displacing the survivors.
The cumulative fatality toll among Palestinians, as of this afternoon, stands at 599, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources. This includes at least 443 civilians (74 per cent), 87 members of armed groups and 69 persons whose status is yet unknown. A third of the civilian fatalities (147) are children, including 36 children under five. The pace of child deaths in the past two days has increased dramatically, with one being killed every hour.
The huge loss of civilian life, alongside credible reports about incidents where civilians or civilian objects (including homes) have been directly hit by Israeli shelling, in circumstances where there was no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity, raise concerns about the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law (IHL).
Despite a decrease since the start of the ground offensive, indiscriminate firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into Israel continued, with most falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome system, resulting in no additional fatalities among Israeli civilians. During the reporting period, three Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, bringing the fatality toll among soldiers since the beginning of the ground incursion to 28, including one missing in action and assumed dead.
Tens of thousands have continued to flee their homes in search of a safe haven, particularly in the northern area and in eastern parts of Gaza City. By this afternoon, UNRWA was hosting over 117,000 IDPs in 80 schools operated as emergency shelters and safe spaces, up from some 100,000 in 68 shelters yesterday. At approximately 17:00 hours yesterday, one of the UNRWA shelters in Al Maghazi was struck by explosive ordnance, reportedly fired by Israel.
There are 12 government schools (the majority in Gaza City), which have been officially opened as emergency shelters and are currently hosting several thousand IDPs; they are managed by the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs and their exact locations have been communicated to the Israeli military. Additionally, an unknown number of IDPs have taken refuge in other government schools, not opened as shelters, as well as in buildings under construction, both of which are considered unsafe.
Intense overcrowding, compounded by the limited access of humanitarian staff to certain areas, is increasingly undermining the living conditions at many shelters and raising protection concerns. Water supply has been particularly challenging, with IDPs in some shelters being supplied with as little as 3 liters per capita per day, to be used for all purposes including drinking and hygiene. The largest concern relates to the current conditions and shortages at eight UNRWA schools in the northern area, which could not be reached from outside for two consecutive days, due to the ongoing fighting.
Public infrastructure and services
Public infrastructure and services continued to be hit and sustain damages, including health facilities and ambulances. Yesterday afternoon, an Israeli airstrike hit the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El Balah, destroying the top two floors, killing three people, and injuring over 40. Since the start of the emergency at least 18 medical
facilities have been hit by airstrikes and shelling. Under IHL, medical personnel, hospitals and ambulances, exclusively assigned to medical duties, must be spared and allowed at all times to carry out their duties.
Electricity supply is another major concern. Initial reports indicate that Gaza's Power Plan was hit today during an airstrike; the scope o damage remains unclear. While two of the ten feeder lines from Israel to Gaza that were damaged three days ago have been repaired on the Gazan side, there has been no progress in the repairs on the Israeli side, resulting in the vast majority of households supplied for just four hours a day. Some 25 per cent of all WASH facilities have no electricity and transformers and rely on generators only.
Key humanitarian priorities
Protection of civilians: ensuring respect for the IHL principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack.
New humanitarian pause: urgently needed, among other reasons, to complete search and rescue operations in Ash Shuja'iyeh; reach IDPs and families in northern Gaza; and repair critical water and electricity infrastructure.
Scale up response to IDPs: additional shelters are needed to reduce overcrowding and accommodate new IDPs, alongside the replenishment of food, water, and NFI stocks.
Humanitarian needs and response
Gaps & Constraints
Today, the Emergency Operations Room (EOC) led by Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA) in Ramallah held the first coordination meeting with the HCT-led EOC in Gaza via video link. This resulted in various arrangements to ensure proper communication and flow of information between the two EOCs, as well as a division of labor pertaining to data collection on needs and responses, and resource mobilization.
A number of bilateral contributions have already been received from donors who have provided funding for urgent needs in the most critical sectors. Based on initial cluster/sector analysis, it was estimated that US $ 40 million is needed for immediate assistance in Gaza, excluding UNRWA's requirements. A number of clusters have also made a preliminary estimate of a further US $87 million that is needed for medium term interventions once the security situation permits. These figures are currently under revision (due to the increase in needs on the ground) and an update will be shared tomorrow.
UNRWA has issued an emergency flash appeal - the initial ask of $60 million has been revised up to $115 million. The amount requested is intended to respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, including the tens of thousands taking shelter in its facilities. New funding will enable UNRWA to respond to needs in shelter, food, health and psychosocial of internally displaced persons (IDPs), while replenishing emergency supplies and preparing for vital interventions necessary after a cessation of military activities.
The 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the oPt has received US$ 170 million (43 per cent) out of a total request of US$ 390 million. Nearly 90 per cent of 1.9 million vulnerable people targeted in the SRP are in Gaza. Gaza-specific projects have received 32% of their requested funding. The HCT has undertaken an exercise to identify the most urgent SRP projects that if funded would help support the response in Gaza, as well as any new needs and a list was shared with donors today.
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. Thus far, two ACF project proposals, worth of US$ 368,624.2) to distribute NFI and water storage tanks to 1,475 households in Gaza, are being processed. A number of donors have come forward with expressions of interest or pledges for the ERF including Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as Italy, which is a new donor set to come on board. Further funding for the ERF is still being sought. The CERF is another existing pooled funding mechanism that can be mobilized.
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:
Katleen Maes, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, email@example.com, +972 59 291 1047
Yehezkel Lein, Head of Analysis, Communications and Protection Unit, OCHA oPt, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 54 331 1809
For media enquiries, please contact:
Hayat Abu-Saleh, Communications and Information Analyst, OCHA oPt, email@example.com, +972 (0) 54 3311816
For more information, please visit www.ochaopt.org
‘These figures do not include many reported cases that could not yet be verified. Data 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.
2Data on injuries is provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.