The expiration of the temporary ceasefire yesterday at 08:00 AM was followed by a resumption of hostilities, albeit at a lower intensity than during the days prior to the lull, resulting in additional Palestinian fatalities and significant property damage. These developments triggered a new wave of mass displacement, with tens of thousands returning to emergency shelters. The status of the negotiations over a more permanent settlement mediated by Egypt is uncertain.
'Data 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.
Hostilities and casualties
At least five Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israeli airstrikes and shelling during the 24 hours that followed the resumption of hostilities. These include ten-year old Ibrahim Al-Dawsa, killed yesterday at around 17:00 during an airstrike in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood of Gaza city, while reportedly playing in the street. An additional eight fatalities were also recorded over the reporting period, including persons whose bodies were recovered, cases of late reporting, and people who died from their wounds. The latter category includes a 14 year-old boy who died in an Egyptian hospital.
This brings the cumulative death toll among Palestinians to at least 1,935, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, including 309 persons who could not be yet identified or their status established. Of the fatalities whose identity and status could be verified, 1,408 are believed to be civilians, including 452 children and 235 women, and 218 have been identified as members of armed groups. The fatalities include eleven UNRWA staff members. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, as of 17:00 on 6 August, 9,806 Palestinians, including 2,979 children and 1,903 women and 356 elderly, had been injured.
Additionally, during the reporting period, at least seven residential structures have been reportedly hit in Israeli air strikes, bringing the total number of such structures destroyed or severely damaged (including multi storey buildings) since the start of the Israeli military operation to over 800. The cumulative number of housing units destroyed or severely damaged (including those directly targeted or affected as collateral damage) is estimated at over 10,800, nearly 70 per cent higher than the equivalent figure recorded during the "Caste Lead Operation" in 2008/9 (approx. 6,400); the number of units that sustained light or substantial damage (still inhabitable) is estimated at 36,700. The estimated cost of the reconstruction and repair of these homes is approximately US$ 238 million
Rocket and mortar firing by Palestinian factions resumed during the reporting period, affecting Israeli communities within a radius of up to 40 kilometres from Gaza. Most projectiles landed in open areas or were intercepted in the air, resulting in two injuries and some damage to property, including one house directly hit. Since 8 July, three civilians in Israel have been killed, including one foreign national, and dozens directly injured by rockets or shrapnel. The total of Israeli military fatalities stands at 64.
The past 24 hours witnessed a sharp reversal of the trend observed in the previous days, when internally displaced persons (IDPs) at emergency shelters began returning to their homes. It estimated that over 60,000 individuals have returned back to shelters, since the resumption of hostilities. As of yesterday afternoon there were 221,600 people taking refuge at 90 UNRWA schools, while another 33,800 were hosted at 25 government and private schools and public facilities (including seven schools supported by UNRWA). There is no update available on the number of IDPs who were taking shelter with host families.
The massive influx into the shelters has place additional strain on the already overstretched capacity of humanitarian agencies, and renewed concerns about hygiene and health conditions, including water-borne diseases and scabies. To address these concerns, UNRWA and partners launched a campaign designed to raise awareness among IDPs about certain risks and promote initiatives to keep shelters clean. Additionally, UNRWA has implemented a program to improve the tracking of nine specific health concerns at shelters.
It is estimated that the sustained efforts by UNRWA and WASH cluster members have ensured that all IDPs in shelters have access to at least 15 litres of water per day, including three litres for drinking, as per the international standards for survival during emergencies. The level of access to water by other IDPs remains uncertain.
Infrastructure and services
Although the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) remains inoperable following an Israeli airstrike on 29 July, eight of the ten electricity feeder lines from Israel to Gaza are now working. Efforts to repair the remaining two lines, which require extensive repairs, are uncertain due to the resumption of hostilities. Despite the increase in the volume of electricity incoming from Israel and Egypt (currently 124 MWs), Gaza's electricity corporation estimated that due to the extensive damage sustained to the internal distribution network, only 10 per cent of that amount is actually being utilized. Consequently, electricity supply to households has seen only a minor improvement and now ranges between three and six hours a day, up from 2-4 hours previously.
The strike on the GPP and the damage sustained by the feeder lines and distribution networks, compounded by the damage to water facilities, also had a devastating impact on the supply of water and sanitation services. Technical teams from the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) have continued to repair and operate previously inaccessible facilities. It is estimated that water supply to half of the population has been restored, allowing the provision of households with water for several hours every five days, while the other half of the population receives no or very little water.
Key humanitarian priorities
Humanitarian space: access for humanitarian workers to carry out life-saving activities should be maintained, among other reasons, to complete search and rescue operations in several areas, and repair critical water and electricity infrastructure. Removal of the threat of numerous UXO in built up areas is vital.
Joint needs assessments: must be launched in the coming days to inform interventions by humanitarian organizations. This is contingent on an extension of the ceasefire.
Additional fuel supply: needed to operate backup generators at essential facilities, including water, sanitation and health, for longer hours.
Strengthen response to IDPs: improving priority response to IDPs in non-UNRWA facilities and with host families; ensuring common standards of response to IDPs throughout the Gaza strip, including comprehensive and common registration.
Humanitarian needs and response
Updates to this section will be provided in the next Situation Report.
Following the resumption of hostilities, humanitarian organizations have postponed the launching of the joint rapid needs assessment originally scheduled for 10 August. However, preparations have continued, including the finalization of questionnaires, the allocation of staff to various teams, and the conduct of relevant trainings. Various technical authorities have committed their support. The assessment will take place in two phases: an overview at the governorate level, on the first day, followed by an assessment at the municipality and refugee camp level for during three-four days. Data collected will be entered on tablets and linked directly to a database. The information will be subsequently validated and analysed, before it is disseminated. Protection and gender concerns have been integrated throughout the process.
Mr. Shawqi Issa, Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Agriculture of the State of Palestine along with the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. James W. Rawley launched the 2014 Gaza Crisis Appeal which outlines the planned humanitarian response of the HCT, including UNRWA to the current emergency. The appeal is intended to address urgent needs in Gaza and currently requests US$ 367 million to implement 86 projects in clusters/sectors including Education, Food Security, Health and Nutrition, Protection, Shelter and WASH as well as Coordination and Support Services. The clusters/sectors requesting the largest amount of funds are Food Security and Shelter which are requesting a total of US$ 293 million together. The appeal is based on the latest analysis of the required emergency assistance to meet the most critical needs of the affected population and will be revised as further information from the ground becomes available and needs assessments become possible. The Crisis Appeal supersedes the estimates presented in the Gaza Crisis Preliminary Needs and Requirements paper of 24 July. The Crisis Appeal is available online at www.ochaopt.org.
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. To date, eight project proposals were approved for a total of US$ 1.85 million. UNDP for Emergency Support to the Electricity Sector due to Damages in the Gaza Strip through the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO), ACF's two projects to provide emergency shelter and NFIs and water, sanitation and hygiene to affected families; Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) project to support for the emergency needs of neonatal units in Gaza hospitals by procurement of essential drugs and disposables; Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) emergency intervention to support the continuation of health services in the northern area of Gaza Strip by providing dedication fuel and consumables to Al Awda hospital, Dan Church Aid and PARC projects to provide food packages and hygiene kits to IDPs hosted in Shelters in Deir Al Balah ,Rafah and Khan Yunis; by and UNMAS' project for the management of ERW to reduce the risk posed to civilians.
In addition a number of proposals are currently being processed, including by Palestinian Medical Relief Society for an emergency intervention to build community support teams worth approximately US$ 250,000; by the Agricultural Development Association (PARC) to provide safe water for IDPs worth approximately US$ 250,000; by MA'AN Development Center for the reparation of WASH facilities worth US$ 275,000; by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) for the support of families in informal shelters worth US$ 238,700 . Further funding for the ERF is still being sought.
UN humanitarian agencies, in cooperation with NGO partners are in the process of finalizing an application to the CERF Rapid Response window covering urgent needs in food assistance, psychosocial support, WASH, rubble removal and critical drugs.
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:
Matthew Ryder, Head of the humanitarian Emergency Operations Center in Gaza, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 597 958 441
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.