This report is produced by OCHA oPt in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 19 July (1500 hrs) to 20 July (1500 hrs). The next report will be issued on 21 July.
The last 24 hours have been the deadliest recorded since the start of the Gaza emergency, following an escalation in the Israeli ground offensive. This has taken place as the offensive, previously focused on the margins of population centers, expanded into some of the most densely populated areas, including Ash Shuja'iyeh neighborhood, in the eastern part of Gaza City. The latter area has been subject to the most intense artillery shelling and airstrikes recorded since the beginning of the emergency, alongside fierce fighting on the ground, that continued overnight and into the morning. This resulted in 60 Palestinians, including 17 children and 14 women, killed, according to reports by human rights organizations, as well as 13 Israeli soldiers (figures could not yet be verified). There has been also widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) negotiated a two-hour humanitarian pause to allow ambulances and medical teams to evacuate the wounded and the dead, as well as search and rescue of people trapped under the rubble. The pause entered into force at 13:30, was interrupted in the middle by crossfire, and subsequently extended until 16:30; evacuation and rescue efforts have continued after the end of the pause.
Until yesterday, the majority of Ash Shuja'iyeh's 92,000 residents had remained in their homes, despite Israeli warnings during the previous days. However, upon the intensification of bombardments, it is estimated that up to half of them have now fled to Gaza City. Along with the influx of people from other affected areas, this has led to an exponential increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
By this afternoon, over 100,000 are believed to have fled their homes, with UNRWA hosting nearly 84,000 in 61 schools operated as emergency shelters, including all UNRWA schools in Gaza city. The number of IDPs hosted by UNRWA has exceeded the equivalent figure during the three-week long "Cast Lead operation" in 2008-9 (51,000 people), which was the deadliest escalation recorded in Gaza since 1967. Additionally, an unknown number of IDPs have taken refuge at 12 government schools, of which only one is currently being managed as an emergency shelter by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and deemed safe, as well as with relatives. Hundreds of other IDPs have sought refuge in the compound of Shifa Hospital, the main medical facility in the Gaza Strip, adding to the burden on overwhelmed doctors and medical staff. Finally, it is estimated that over 13,000 IDPs, whose homes have been destroyed or damaged, are hosted by relatives and neighbors.
Apart from the protection of civilians and the evacuation and treatment of those injured, the main priority for humanitarian agencies continues to be the provision of food, water, mattresses and hygiene items to those displaced, as well as fuel to essential water, health and solid waste facilities. However, the expansion of ongoing hostilities into built up areas and the resulting access restrictions are increasingly challenging humanitarian operations; as of the time of writing, agencies were unable to deliver supplies to Beit Hanoun town, in the northern area, affecting 2,500 IDPs in an UNRWA school, among others. Israeli ground operations took place also in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip, triggering the closure of all UNRWA installations in Maghazi and Bureij refugee camps, severely disrupting the delivery of aid and provision of basic services.
Due to the intensity of hostilities, no progress could be achieved in the repair of the electricity feeder lines damaged in previous days, while only limited repairs of water and sanitation infrastructure took place. Some 80 per cent of the population continues receiving electricity only four hours a day, and water supply or sewage services to as many as 1.2 million have been cut or severely disrupted. The demand and pressure on the private sector water tankering system is increasing and prices are soaring.
The scope of displacement is expected to increase rapidly as the ground operations continue. In the past 24 hours, Israeli forces have delivered additional warnings to large population centers in the middle and southern areas of Gaza. The areas where civilians have been warned to leave in the past few days, together with the 3 kilometers-wide strip along the perimeter fence, which was declared as a `no-go zone', cover approximately 43 per cent of Gaza's territory.
The Palestinian fatality toll since the start of the emergency, which includes only those fatalities reported during the past 24 hours that can be confirmed (39), is at least 375, of whom 270 (72 percent) are believed to be civilians, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 3,008 Palestinians, including 904 children and 533 women, have been injured. The high proportion of civilian casualties, along with allegations by human rights organizations about the targeting of civilians and civilian objects, continue to raise concerns about respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack under international humanitarian law.
Indiscriminate firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into Israel also continued, with most falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome system. In total two Israeli civilians have been killed from rocket and mortar fire since the start of hostilities and at least 15, who were injured by shrapnel, have been treated by the Magen David Adom. Additionally, since the start of the ground operation on 17 July, 18 Israeli soldiers have been also killed, the majority within Gaza.
Humanitarian needs and response
Updates to be provided in tomorrow's Situation Report.
A number of bilateral contributions have already been received from donors who have provided funding for urgent needs in the most critical sectors. Based on initial cluster / sector analysis it is estimated that US $ 40 million is needed for immediate assistance in Gaza, excluding UNRWA's requirements. A number of clusters have also made a preliminary estimate of a further US $87 million that is needed for medium term interventions once the security situation permits. All estimates are based on initial information; revisions, as new assessments come in, will be communicated to donors.
UNRWA has issued an emergency flash appeal worth $60 million to respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, including the tens of thousands taking shelter in its facilities. New funding will enable UNRWA to respond to needs in shelter, food, health and psychosocial of internally displaced persons (IDP5), while replenishing emergency supplies and preparing for vital interventions necessary after a cessation of military activities.
The 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the oPt has received US$ 170 million (43 per cent) out of a total request of US$ 390 million. Nearly 90 per cent of 1.9 million vulnerable people targeted in the SRP are in Gaza. Gaza-specific projects have received 32% of their requested funding. The HCT is currently undertaking an exercise to identify the most urgent SRP projects that if funded would help support the response in Gaza, as well as any new needs.
The Emergency Response Fund (ERF) is an additional mechanism available to fund interventions in Gaza through rapid and flexible support to affected civilian populations. Currently, the ERF is processing one project application in regards to the Gaza emergency. A number of donors have come forward with expressions of interest or pledges for the ERF including Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as Italy, which is a new donor set to come on board. Further funding for the ERF is still being sought.
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, email@example.com, +972 59 291 1047
Yehezkel Lein, Head of Analysis, Communications and Protection Unit, OCHA oPt, firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 54 331 1809
For media enquiries, please contact:
Hayat Abu-Saleh, Communications and Information Analyst, OCHA oPt, email@example.com, +972 (0) 54 3311816
For more information, please visit www.ochaopt.org
1 These figures do not include many reported cases that could not yet be verified. 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.
2 Data on injuries is provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.