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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
16 August 2005
HUMANITARIAN UPDATE, 16 AUGUST 2005
At midnight on Sunday 14 August, the border crossing between Israel and Gaza was closed at Qissufim road. The following morning, the Israeli authorities started to handout eviction notices to those families living in 21 settlements throughout the Gaza Strip. Failure to leave by midnight on 16 August will lead to the physical removal by Israeli Police and Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of those settlers and supporters who remain.
1. Settler evacuation status
• Israeli media is reporting that all families living in Peát Sadeh and Rafiah Yam settlements will have evacuated of their own accord by Tuesday evening.
• Israeli media estimates that a further 120 families will also leave Neve Dekalim Tuesday evening along with the two remaining families in Dugit in the northern settlement block. Voluntary movement of families is also reported from Gadid and Gan Or.
• In Nissanit, a farewell ceremony will begin at 6 pm. Tuesday evening, after which the remaining families in the settlement are also expected to leave.
• The IDF believes the evacuation of the remaining settlers may be completed within 10 days ie. Thursday, 25 August.
• Clashes have taken place today between settlers and the Police and IDF. This is expected to continue and possibly escalate in the coming days.
The Gaza Security/Operations room centred in the UNRWA radio room has been operational since 5 am on Monday, 15 August and provides an information hotline – 08 284 7719, SMS service and blog facility.
• Within the Operations room, OCHA is maintaining contact with humanitarian agencies and providing an overview of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Coordination links and information exchange has also been established with NGOs through the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA).
• Coordination meetings continue in Gaza City in the health, water/sanitation, education and psychosocial/child protection sectors.
3. External movements
• Palestinian workers have been unable to enter Israel since 13 August, although Palestinian factory owners are still being permitted to enter the Erez industrial zone.
• Movement of Palestinian males aged 16-35 years through Rafah terminal is only permitted with advance coordination, with priority granted to students, those requiring overseas medical treatment and those with overseas residency.
• Delays of up to 1.5 hours were experienced on 15 August on movement between Ashqelon and Erez terminal with the imposition of three additional checkpoints by the Police and IDF.
4. Internal movements and closure
Restrictions on movement have become apparent in the last 48 hours, particularly for those living in the enclaves and around the Qissifum road/Abu Houli junction:
• 14 August. IDF has notified a number of Palestinian families living in the enclosed areas north and south of Qissufim road (Abu Haddaf, Abu Farraj, Abu Nahia and As Semari) that the area will be closed down from 17 August.
• 14 August. IDF has advised the As Semairi family living south east of Abu Al Ajin road to leave before 17 August or to expect a one month closure. The family is prepared to stay in their home.
• 14 August. In the Abu Farraj area to the south west of Abu Al Ajin road, IDF bulldozers erected a large sand barrier next to the Qissufim road. Four families were notified they will be closed down for at least one month.
• 15 August. IDF notified people in the Al Ma’ani enclave that the area will be closed for one month from Wednesday 17 August.
• 15 August. Al Mawasi enclave was re-opened at Tuffah checkpoint for those residents stuck outside the enclave since it was closed on 6 August. The Al Mawasi Association informed OCHA that over 200 people entered between 12 am and 7 pm.
• 16 August. IDF announced the As Siafa enclave as a closed military zone.
• 16 August. The upper floors of the Saqer family home to the east of Abu Houli checkpoint were reoccupied and the family informed they could be locked in for 3-6 weeks. The IDF has confirmed that they will remain there until the disengagement is complete.
• 17 August. Expected closure of Abu Houli junction between 5 and 6 am and 8 and 9 pm (as advised by the IDF) for up to 6 weeks.
5. Humanitarian issues
• No obvious humanitarian concerns have emerged as the Israeli disengagement enters its third day. Even in those areas that are likely to be affected by closures of up to one month, needs assessments took place during May and June by UN agencies and international NGOs. Resources have either been pre-positioned by the UN agencies – UNRWA, UNICEF and WFP - or else the families are in direct receipt of ICRC assistance and this is expected to continue on the basis of assurances given by the IDF.
• An alternative twice daily route will be provided through Abu Al Ajin road (running parallel to Abu Houli junction) for movement of UNRWA staff to and from north and south Gaza while Abu Houli remains closed.
• Clashes between settlers and Israeli police and IDF can expect to increase following the 16 August midnight deadline from when all settlers and supporters will be physically removed from Gaza. This may last no more than 2-3 days and indeed the evacuation of settlers could be completed by 25 August (as above).
• There has been a notable reduction in the last week in the number of home made rockets and mortars fired by Palestinian militants at Israeli targets inside Gaza and Israel. This trend combined with the deployment of up to 7500 Palestinian Security Forces on 14 August around the settlement areas lessens the chance of a “withdrawal under fire”.
• Unless there is a marked escalation in Israeli-Palestinian clashes, no major humanitarian needs are currently envisaged.
OCHA Website For More Information:
OCHA-oPt, P.O. Box 38712 East Jerusalem
Phone: (972) 2 – 5829962 / 5825853, Fax: (972) 2 – 5825841