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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
20 August 2014


20 August 2014/ Issue No. 43


Dramatic increase in IDP numbers due to military escalation: 261,341 displaced in 82 UNRWA shelters.

According to preliminary information by the Protection Cluster 17 killed in the past 24 hours. The cumulative Palestinian death toll climbed to 1,999, including 467 children and 244 women. Over the course of the military escalation, 66 Israelis were killed, including 64 soldiers, two civilians plus one foreign national.



Past 24 hours: Reportedly, since approximately 15:50hrs yesterday afternoon and until 08:00hrs this morning, there were 62 rockets and 5 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that Israel fired 85 air-to-ground missiles, 20 navy shells and 67 tank shells into Gaza. 8 houses were reportedly bombarded.


If you would meet Dr. Mohammed El Aydi in his tiny office in Khan Younis, he would propably go out of his way to serve you the best food in the Gaza Strip. You would have to beg him to stick to tea and felafel whilst he would take the time to tell you all about UNRWA in Khan Younis, conflict resolution, social justice and community participation. He would be very interested in your views on solving community disputes or the electoral system in wherever you come from, and you could, if you’d like, ask him about sociologist x or the hairstyle in Gaza in the 1960s. He would be able to tell you all about it. Should you be lucky enough to meet him a second time in your life, he would still remember your name and would tell you how much he missed having you around.

Dr. El Aydi is one of five UNRWA Chief Area Officers in the Gaza Strip. He is responsibe for UNRWA operations in Khan Younis. There is no time and place now to speak about anything else than the war and how he and his team are doing everything they can to support those in need whilst being victims of the war themselves.

Had you visited him this week he would have taken you along to an UNRWA school in Khuza’a. With its palm fringed roads and villas, Khuza’a used to be one of the very few pleasant locations in the Gaza Strip. Close to the fence, the tiny town was occupied by Israel and shelled to ruins over the past month. The UNRWA school you would have visited, Elementary A & B Coed, is one of the Agency’s 59 school buildings that had to keep its doors closed to the displaced as Khuza’a is not safe.

A couple of days ago, the mine clearers searched for unexploded ordnance in what is left of the building and cleared it for UNRWA staff to enter. Dr. El Aydi would have told you he knows the school inside out. He used to come here as a small child with his father to eat water melon in the nearby field. His father wanted to show him the Eastern end of the 365 qkm coastal enclave, and then he would have shown you the fence just a couple of hundred meters away.

There is not much left of the school. An entire wing is missing and the traces of tanks go right through a former classroom. In the midst of the summer heat, amidst the rubble, and whilst staring at what is left of the classrooms, you would have seen a book on the floor, covered in dirt and broken glass. You would have picked it up. Dr. El Aydi would have told you this is the book of Roaa Nasser Qodah who was studying in the 5th grade in the school. He would have translated the Arabic poems, handwritten by an 11 year old, for you:

Hope is a wonderful friend that might disappear
But it will never betray

Happiness is inside your home
Do not search for it in the gardens of strangers

Dr. El Aydi would have told you he is going to keep the book, that he will search for the little girl and return it to her. He would have told you he will read out the poem once the school opens its doors again, in 1 or 2 years, or maybe more, as there is no construction material in Gaza. He would have told you that he will still be around because there is nowhere to go from here. You wouldn‘t have to ask any further, because by then you would have understood what living without freedom means.

Reportedly, there were 62 rockets and 5 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 85 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 20 navy shells. 67 tank shells were fired from the fence into populated areas. Reportedly, 8 houses were bombarded.


Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 109 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.


More information on the revised flash appeal can be found here.


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