As the Gaza emergency enters its fifth day, the civilian population in the Gaza Strip continues to bear the brunt of casualties: at least 70 per cent of the Palestinian fatalities (89 of 126) are believed to be civilians, of whom 30 per cent (27 of 89) are children, while nearly two thirds of all injuries (500 of 910) have been children and women. These figures, along worrisome reports about the circumstances of some incidents, have raised concerns about the respect to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack under International Humanitarian Law.
The intensity of indiscriminate rocket firing at Israeli localities declined during the past 24 hours with several hours of complete halt during the night and early morning of 11-12 July. While most rockets were intercepted or landed in open areas, two houses in Beersheba and Dimona were destroyed and at least three people were injured. Media reports indicate that since 7 July seven Israelis have been injured by rocket, while dozens of others sustained injuries while running to shelters.
The previously reported high level of intensity of Israeli bombardments across the Gaza Strip continued. In particular, the past 24 hours witnessed a remarkable increase in tank shelling from areas along Gaza's perimeter fence. The growing volume of Israeli troops deployed in the area in the past two days has fuelled existing fear about a potential land incursion, which were triggered by recorded warnings given to residents in peripheral areas to evacuate their houses and move to nearby urban areas on 10 July.
In one incident overnight between 11 and 12 July a building in Beit Lahia housing the Al-Mabrat Society, an institution for persons with severe disabilities, was directly hit by an air missile, killing two women with disabilities and injuring three residents of the home and one staff member. The deliberate targeting of residential properties, some of which are the homes of alleged members of armed groups, continued, with the total number of affected homes ranging from 88 to 112, according to various Palestinian human rights organizations. The number of homes destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli attacks since the start of the emergency has reached 750, bringing the estimated number of people displaced to 4,500.
Since the start of the emergency, the Palestinian Civil Defence has conducted 207 evacuations and search and rescue operations, however, it has warned today that their operations are being hampered by the shortage of vehicles, machinery and spare parts.
The scope of damage sustained by civilian infrastructure as a result of bombardments is also of increasing concern. Four lines supplying electricity to Gaza, including one from Egypt and three from Israel have been damaged in the past 48 hours, leaving 75 per cent of Gaza City without power. While most repairs are expected to be completed today, these incidents exacerbate the impact of the longstanding electricity deficit affecting Gaza in recent years, which have disrupted the delivery of basic services and undermined livelihoods and living conditions.
Airstrikes in the past 24 hours have damaged at least seven main water pipelines in Beit Hanoun, Khan Youths, and Gaza City, in addition to a water well, a water reservoir, a sewage lagoon and a storm collection pond. While some repairs have taken place, the affected staff face increasing risks: three water technicians from the Gaza Municipality and Al Bureij Camp were killed in two separate incidents on 11 July, while on duty. Since the start of the emergency WASH facilities in 18 different locations have sustained damage, affecting approximately 395,000 people.
The Erez passenger crossing and the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing are closed today, according to their normal operating schedule. Yesterday (11 July) seven trucks of medical supplies, as well as fuel for the Gaza Power Plant and cooking gas entered, and 22 foreign nationals, along with a number of medical cases were allowed to leave via Israel. Currently there are nearly 900 foreign nationals awaiting evacuation, the majority of whom are scheduled to leave tomorrow (13 July). The Rafah border crossing with Egypt is open today to allow for the evacuation of a limited number of wounded Palestinians.
Humanitarian needs and response
Nothing to report.
Gaps and Constraints
The Access Coordination Unit (ACU) of the Humanitarian Country Team have been working closely with the local authorities in Gaza and the Israeli authorities at the Erez Crossing to coordinate the evacuation of foreign nationals and the access of water and telecommunications teams to the ARA along the fence for repairs. ACU staff have been deployed at Erez and additional staff to be deployed in Gaza to support upcoming humanitarian operations.
The 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the oPt has received $164 million (42 per cent) out of a total request of $390 million Nearly 90 per cent of 1.9 million vulnerable people targeted in the SRP are in Gaza. Less that 30 per cent of the funds requested for projects targeting Gaza specifically have been mobilized. Projects targeting Gaza and the West Bank jointly arefully funded, however, such projects only represent $68.2 million of the SRP total request. Funding across clusters has been uneven however, no clusters are on track with funding at the mid-year point with the exception of Coordination. Food Security interventions, which represent the bulk of humanitarian assistance in Gaza, are only 30 per cent funded.
The Emergency Response Fund (ERF) is an additional mechanism available to fund interventions in Gaza. While the ERF balance currently stands at $4 million, $2 million worth of proposals are already being processed to meet previous underfunded, critical SRP projects which are also covering critical sectors that support responses during the emergency. The ERF is therefore in urgent need of replenishment to ensure the fund's ability to provide rapid and flexible support to affected civilian populations.
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, 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 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.
2Data on injuries is provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.