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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
23 July 2007





SUMMARY POINTS

1. Basic food commodities entered Gaza primarily through Sufa crossing (76% of all truckloads) and also through Kerem Shalom. 92% of the total amount of supplies entering Gaza were commercial commodities1; the rest were humanitarian supplies.2

2. Despite the flow of food commodities, shortages remain of rice, vegetable oil and baby milk. Rising market prices – notably for vegetables, fresh and frozen meat, and milk powder – have placed an additional strain on the ability of households to ensure a balanced diet.

3. The 6-week closure of Karni is causing significant economic damage to the Gazan economy. Effects on Gaza’s industrial and commercial sectors were reported in the last edition of this situation report. With the start of the planting season, the agricultural sector which employs 40,000 people and produces 300-500 tons of products daily in Gaza is in jeopardy. Since the closure, the sector has already lost an estimated $4.5 million3. The fishing industry is also experiencing losses – fish prices have dropped by more than 50% due to the flooding of the market of fish designated for export.

4. Rafah Crossing has remained closed for all Gazan residents for the last 44 days – the longest period since the implementation of the Access and Movement Agreement (AMA) in November 2005. Between 4-6,000 Palestinians from Gaza remain in Egypt unable to return home. Many have run out of savings.

5. The closure of crossings has lead to electricity shortages due to the inability to receive spare parts and maintenance teams. 50% of production has been lost. In the past week, power outages occurred on two days for 4-5 hours.

6. The internal security situation in Gaza generally remains calm. Nonetheless, IDF military operations continue and there have been reports of three “honour” killings of women, a death in detention caused by torture and storming of a prominent Fatah official’s office in Gaza. Palestinian militants fired 29 Qassam rockets and 30 mortar shells from Gaza towards southern Israeli towns and Erez, Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings.


ACCESS AND CROSSINGS


INTERNAL FOOD AVAILABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY

The movement of commodities through Sufa and Kerem Shalom has made a variety of basic food items available on the market, with shortages of only a few essential commodities – notably powdered and baby milk, rice and vegetable oil. Additional food commodities (dairy products, fruit, spices, tea, canned food and pasta) are being imported in acceptable quantities to meet immediate commercial needs.


Rising market prices place a strain on the ability of households to ensure an adequate, healthy and balanced diet. None of the monitored food prices are down to pre-crisis levels, except for local cash crops for export (notably tomatoes, melons and apples) whose prices are decreasing. Prices of vegetables remain generally very high, especially for lemons, cucumbers and lentils. The high prices of animal fodder coupled with the shortage of cattle are generating a rise in the prices of related commodities (agricultural produce, fresh and frozen meat).

LIVESTOCK AND FISHING

The average monthly consumption of livestock feeds for small ruminants, poultry, and cattle is about 20,000 tons, while the total volume now in storage is estimated to be enough for 20 days only. A significant rise in the feed prices (typically from 1,700 to 2,100 NIS/ton for broiler feed and 1,400 to 1,650 NIS/ton for layer feed) has lead to premature selling of broiler chickens (at lower weights) and to a higher price for table eggs (from 14 to 17 NIS/30 eggs).

There are 11 hatcheries in Gaza producing enough chicks to meet the local demand. These hatcheries usually import fertilised eggs from Israel. Currently, there are only about 200,000 broiler eggs in the Gaza Strip. If the crossings remain closed, these hatcheries will not be able to meet local demand and the supply of this main animal protein source will be jeopardised. The availability of red meat and milk production (by cattle and small ruminants) have decreased, notably due to the shortage in feed both as concentrates and roughage.

Before the closure, approximately two tons of fish/day were exported from Gaza. With the closure, the flooding of the market of fish designated for export has resulted in a significant decline in fish prices, causing heavy losses to the fishing industry. The price of Locus fish (considered a delicacy) declined from 150 to 50 NIS/kg and Calamari went from 70 to 30 NIS/kg.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The Gaza Power Generating Company, which provides 30% of electricity to Gaza, faces the prospect of major shutdowns. About 50% of the Gaza Power Plant’s production capacity has been lost due to delays in maintenance. Remaining capacity will soon be further limited due to upcoming maintenance requirements. Efforts are underway to deploy a maintenance team that has been delayed due to security concerns. The step-down transformer meant to avoid shortages was scheduled to arrive in Gaza in early July but is still in Egypt waiting for approval from Egyptian and Israeli authorities to be moved into Gaza.

This week, power outages throughout the Gaza Strip are more noticeable with at least 4-5 hours cut occurring on two days per week, with shorter cuts on a daily basis. Longer hours of outages are expected with the increased demand during the next few months of summer.

Nearly 160,000 tons of concrete rubble and an additional 293,233 tons of non-concrete rubble have been removed from 19 evacuated settlements and transported to a crushing site. Work is nearly complete at 9 evacuated settlements.

HEALTH

The general situation in the health sector remains the same since last week. Primary and secondary health care facilities are functioning with no major disruptions, despite shortages of electricity and supplies. Shortages of supplies include X-ray film, laboratory kits, patient beds and examination tables. 80 items are below the one-month stock thresholds, including chronic disease drugs and anaesthetics. A considerable portion of equipment and machines are out of order, overloading the remaining capacity of hospitals.

No progress is reported with regards to referrals through Rafah crossing. Erez crossing remains open for critical patients, with about 20 patients crossing per day.


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1 Commercial commodities include basic foods (e.g. wheat flour), daily essentials (i.e. soap, diapers) and other food stuffs (e.g. frozen meats, fresh dairy) all imported by the private sector. These commodities are distributed through commercial outlets on the open market.
2 Humanitarian supplies consist of basic foods (e.g. wheat flour, rice, pulses, cooking oil) and animal feed delivered by UNWRA and the World Food Programme (WFP), and also medicines. These commodities are distributed to pre-identified beneficiaries of these organizations.
3 Source: Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture
4 Source: Gaza Industrial Association

United Nations - Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
occupied Palestinian territory P.O. Box, 38712 East Jerusalem
Phone: (972) 2 – 5829962 / 5825853, Fax: (972) 2 - 5825841
org . un @ ochaopt : Email org . ochaopt . www

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