This report is produced by OCHA oPt in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 26 July (1500 hrs) to 27 July (1500 hrs). The next report will be issued on 28 July.
The Gaza emergency enters its twentieth day, with the Palestinian fatality toll exceeding 1,000 (many not yet identified), and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) surpassing 200,000. The 12-hour ceasefire that entered into force yesterday (26 July) at 8 am, was extended unilaterally by Israel to midnight, but was not fully upheld, with reports of rockets being fired towards Israel. Intense Israeli bombardments and ground operations resumed at midnight, alongside a continuation of Palestinian rocket fire. A UN proposal for an additional 24-hour ceasefire starting today at 14:00 was accepted by Hamas but reportedly rejected by Israel. With no place being perceived as safe and immune from attack, and Gaza’s crossings effectively sealed, the resumption of hostilities fueled further frustration, hopelessness and despair.
Throughout the duration of the ceasefire and beyond, ambulance crews and rescue workers continued to search the rubble of destroyed buildings to retrieve bodies, particularly in Ash Shujai’iya, Beit Hanoun and around Khan Younis. The pause also allowed for supplies to be delivered to previously inaccessible localities within the three kilometer wide ‘buffer zone’ declared by Israel, particularly in the northern and middle areas. Water tankers were able to reach some emergency shelters in these areas for the first time in several days. However, some areas, most notable Khuza’a (east of Khan Younis), have remained inaccessible, despite the ceasefire. A number of warehouses critical for humanitarian operations have remained out of reach as well, including UNRWA’s main warehouse in eastern Gaza City.
Gazans took advantage of the ceasefire to stock up on basic necessities. However, shortages of some food items in the local market have increased, and in some areas, large crowds have been observed outside of bakeries. While prices of staple food have remained largely stable, prices of fresh food, vegetables in particular, soared. Possible reasons for these shortages and price rises include the inaccessibility of some farming areas and food warehouses, as well as the increase in purchases by humanitarian agencies supporting IDPs.
Hostilities and casualties
Since the start of the ceasefire, over 100 bodies have been retrieved from previously inaccessible areas, however, as of this afternoon only 56 have been identified and included in the fatality toll. This is in addition to at least 16 Palestinians killed, or who died of wounds, during the reporting period, mostly between midnight and 14:00today. This brings the cumulative death toll among Palestinians to at least 999, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources. This includes at least 760 civilians (76 per cent of total fatalities); 151 members of armed groups; and 88 persons whose status is still unknown.
Indiscriminate firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into southern and central Israel resumed yesterday at 20:00, with most falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome system, resulting in no additional civilian fatalities. Since 8 July, three civilians in Israel have been killed, including one foreign national, and a few dozen directly injured by rockets or shrapnel. One Israeli soldier was killed during the reporting period and another two died of their wounds sustained previously, bringing the Israeli military fatalities since the beginning of the ground offensive to 43.
Many IDPs took advantage of the ceasefire to leave the shelters to purchase basic supplies, and some to return to their homes to inspect damage and collect clothing and other essentials belongings; however, the vast majority have returned. As hostilities resumed, large areas in the southwest of Gaza city outside of the ‘buffer zone’, including Al Zaitoun, Sabra, and Asqula neighborhoods, received additional warnings from the Israeli army to evacuate their homes ahead of attacks, triggering more displacement.
Overall, during the reporting period some 8,000 additional people have sought refuge at UNRWA schools operating as emergency shelters, which are now hosting over 173,000 IDPs. It is estimated that another 10,000 IDPs are residing in 13 government schools and public buildings. This is in addition to the approximately 22,000 individuals who have been displaced, and are hosted by friends or relatives as destruction or damage to their homes has rendered them uninhabitable.
Public infrastructure and services
The pause allowed for utility workers to carry out basic maintenance and repairs. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO) reported that four of the ten feeder lines from Israel were repaired in coordination with the ICRC, however, the three lines feeding Gaza city could not be repaired due to the large scope of damage. Scheduled electricity outages have continued for some 20 hours a day. While prior damage to the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) has been repaired, unless additional fuel is delivered, the plant will shut down tomorrow.
All water pumps and equipment for wells, sewage pumping stations, wastewater treatment plants and desalination plants have been affected by the sharp reduction in electricity supply. Those facilities without generators have shut down, while the rest are affected by an ongoing scarcity of fuel. As a result, the vast majority of the population has reduced access to water: due to the lower pressure in the network, water cannot reach certain streets, areas of higher altitude, and upper levels of multi-storey buildings. Several areas are exposed to public health risks due to the mixing of sewage with piped water, as a result of unrepaired damages to the networks.
Key humanitarian priorities
Protection of civilians: ensuring respect for the IHL principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack.
Humanitarian space: increased access for humanitarian workers to carry out life-saving activities, for example, through regular and meaningful humanitarian pauses or corridors for the evacuation of the injured. This is needed among other reasons, to complete search and rescue operations in several areas, 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. Assistance for IDPs living with host families also needs to be increased, particularly the provision of NFIs and water.
Humanitarian needs and response
The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues its daily meetings, focusing primarily on the coordination of the IDP response and challenges related to humanitarian space. Some EOC members also carried out monitoring visits to hospitals and government school shelters. The EOC Secretariat met in Ramallah to discuss a coordinated approach to appeals by different Ministries. OCHA discussed the preparation of the HCT Gaza Crisis Appeal with MOPAD. The Launching of the humanitarian appeal is scheduled for 1 August, in Ramallah
OCHA, UNRWA, Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoElfE), Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS) and Internal Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continue the coordination of opening up additional government schools for IDP shelters.
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 latest cluster/sector analysis, it is estimated that US $69 million is now needed for immediate assistance in Gaza, excluding UNRWA’s requirements. Some clusters have also made a latest estimate so far of up to US $220 million that is needed for medium term interventions once the security situation permits. The Humanitarian Country Team has begun development of a dedicated Gaza Crisis Appeal which will be finalized by 1 August to address urgent humanitarian needs resulting from the conflict. The appeal once finalized will supersede earlier HCT estimates.
UNRWA has issued its own emergency flash appeal which was revised up to US $115 million this week. The amount requested will help UNRWA respond to the urgent needs of the currently, 159,000 IDPs taking shelter in its facilities, while replenishing emergency supplies and preparing for vital interventions necessary after a cessation of military activities.
The 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the oPt has received US$ 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 per cent of their requested funding.
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, (totaling US$ 368,624) to distribute NFI and water storage tanks to 1,475 households in Gaza, are being processed. Three additional proposals were approved today: support for the emergency needs of neonatal units in Gaza hospitals by procurement of essential drugs and disposables submitted by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), the provision of food packages and hygine kits to IDPs hosted in Shelters in Rafah and Khan Unis by Dabn Church Aid; and for the management of ERW to reduce the risk posed to civilians by UNMASt. 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.
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.
Katleen Maes, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 59 291 1047
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.