13 May 2016
• Security incidents between Gaza and Israel during the reporting week were highlighted in a statement issued by the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, on 4 May. “I am concerned about the security incidents that have taken place along the border with Gaza over the past 24 hours. I call upon all to exercise maximum restraint and to take all necessary action to prevent the risk of escalation. It is critical that peace be maintained to ensure the safety and security of Israelis and Palestinians, alike,” the statement reads. Recurrent cycles of armed violence and conflict as well as the ongoing blockade – entering its tenth year in June 2016 – do not only affect the people of Gaza in physical and socio-economic terms, but also expose the population to high levels of psychosocial stress. UNRWA and its humanitarian partners continue to work to address these through their regular operations and emergency response work.
• Access to electricity continues to be a major concern for communities in Gaza. This was highlighted again during the reporting week after the tragic death of three Palestine refugee children in a fire, having reportedly been lighting candles in their home on the evening of 6 May. UNRWA shares its deepest condolences with the family and friends of the deceased children. According to a recent update from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) was forced to shut down completely last month after exhausting its fuel reserves and being unable to replenish them due to a shortage of funds. This triggered electricity blackouts of 18-20 hours per day, up from 12 hours previously, further undermining the delivery of basic services to families in Gaza and impacting already vulnerable livelihoods and living conditions. Prior to this development, the GPP had been operating at about half of its capacity, producing nearly 30 per cent (60 MW) of the electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip; the remaining electricity is purchased from Israel (120 MW) and Egypt (30 MW). The electricity shortage, combined with the lack of affordable fuel have resulted in a further reduction in the water supply to households, which OCHA states has declined from approximately 80 to 55 litres per person per day. Additionally, the five wastewater treatment plants had to shorten the treatment cycles, thus increasing the pollution level of partially treated sewage discharged into the sea. The potential shut down of sewage pumping stations also exacerbates the risk of back-flow and flooding of raw sewage onto streets. The concerns regarding electricity access in Gaza have been highlighted by the humanitarian sector on several occasions for a number of years, including in the 2020 United Nations Country Team’s joint report, Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?
• Citizen journalism is a participatory form of journalism based upon citizens playing a role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing or disseminating information. Through one of its communications with communities (CwC) activities, the UNRWA Gaza Communications Office has piloted a citizen journalism project to help bring the voices of Palestine refugee students to the forefront and to encourage students to express themselves freely using their creativity and imagination. In March 2016, a special story-telling workshop was organized with members of the “journalism club” in the UNRWA Nuseirat Preparatory Girls A school in central Gaza, aiming at exploring different ways of thinking and writing by adopting unusual and new perspectives. The “Nuseirat journalism club” was founded eight years ago and is led by Arabic teacher Suheir Al Khalid. The club aims at encouraging talented students to write and think independently; it includes approximately 20 members. Besides writing, the members are involved in other different social school activities, and many are members of the school parliament.
• Under the initiative “visually impaired students volunteer for a clean centre and street,” 132 students and 50 staff from the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre for Visually Impaired (RCVI) in Gaza city participated in a volunteer day on 2 May. They cleaned the school by tidying the classes and the garden and planting trees. In addition, they cleaned the street and the area in front of the RCVI gate. The goal of the activity was to demonstrate how much visually impaired students are passionate about using their abilities to contribute as members of society. Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling their communities’ challenges, and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation. The RCVI is part of the UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) and offers education, rehabilitation and recreational activities for children with visual impairment (blindness or partial sight), aged six to twelve. It is the only centre in Gaza providing these services for the visually impaired, and does so to a total of 465 pupils studying in the RCVI, in UNRWA schools as well as in government schools. Both Palestine refugees and non-refugees are accepted for enrolment at the RCVI.
• On 7 May, the Central Student’s Parliament of UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip held its final session. Fourteen male and female representatives from UNRWA preparatory and elementary schools gathered with two education specialists and five teachers who serve as the central coordination committee of the parliament. The students, representing the 11 Area Student’s Parliaments in Gaza, met to discuss the parliament’s activities and achievements in 2015/16 school year, lessons learned and feedback to enrich the parliamentary experience for the new scholastic year. The students also had fun through educational games and competitions tackling cultural and human rights information. In Gaza, there are 11 Area Student’s Parliaments and 241 School Parliaments, as parliaments were not formed in the 16 lower elementary schools (grades 1 to 3). School Parliaments in Gaza are responsible for raising the concerns, suggestions and problems of students to the School Principal, teachers, parents’ councils and the overall UNRWA education team. They also actively promote human rights concepts through school radio programmes or school magazines, the organizing of events or visits to civil society and human rights organizations. Each parliament has a leader (president), as well as a vice president and a secretary. Parliament members are divided into different committees, such as the cultural, social, health or mediation committee. School parliaments promote a culture of human rights in schools and strengthen democratic practices and life among students. They also teach children civil and social skills, including leadership, participation, decision-making and communication. The school parliament students were elected by their classmates in an organized election process, which was held last October. The electoral process helps students understand the values needed for practicing elections, such as forgiveness, conflict resolution, dialogue and self-confidence.
• On 8 May, the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre (GTC) organized a ceremony honouring the innovations of the training centre’s graduates and their supervisors. The first team of innovators, consisting of four female and one male graduate, produced a cheese enriched with high percentage of calcium and phyto-oestrogen as a natural treatment for osteoporosis. The team received a patent from the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy. A team of four young male innovators developed three different samples of solar water heating units to provide affordable, safe and environmentally friendly heating solutions for Palestinian families still living in makeshift homes and caravans due to the destruction of their homes during the 2014 summer conflict. The design of the units had been requested by two international organizations, Action Contre la Faim (ACF, Action Against Hunger) and Mercy Corps, and are reproduced in the local market for installation in mobile latrines – small units containing a toilet, showerhead and washbasin – for internally displaced persons. The ceremony was attended by the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Bo Schack, UNRWA senior staff, the students’ parents and representatives from the private sector, Palestine Investment Fund, Unions, University and College representatives and Non-Government Organizations in Gaza. It was not only the occasion for the GTC innovators and their supervisors to share their achievements with parents and the community, but also to show the quality of training provided at the GTC and give the young graduates an opportunity to network with possible employers. The GTC is part of UNRWA Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), offering 39 courses of technical and vocational training to Palestine refugee youth in Gaza. Since its establishment in 1953, over 21,000 young Gaza refugees have graduated from its trades and technical courses. The training provides students with space to develop themselves and their skills, which can help them find employment or become an entrepreneur to find a way out of poverty.
• In April, UNRWA completed four infrastructure projects including two schools in Nuseirat and Jabalia Camp and two small infrastructure improvement projects. As of April 2016, the total value of UNRWA projects at various stages from design to completion approved by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit is US$ 232.2 million. UNRWA received COGAT feedback for two projects during April. The two projects received approval for ABC materials (aggregate, steel reinforcement bars and cement) only. In April, UNRWA imported 121 trucks of material listed on the list of dual use items, 97 trucks loaded with cement and 16 with non-cement construction material. For more information on UNRWA construction activities in Gaza, please consult the attached April 2016 Construction Update.
• Poverty and unemployment are identified as priority problems that require response and as underlying factors to needs in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), states OCHA in the 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). This information is based on perceived vulnerability as expressed by key informants at the community level in a multi-cluster/ multi-partner nation-wide Vulnerability Profile Project (VPP) that captured information on a wide range of humanitarian indicators related to physical protection, access to land and livelihoods, water and sanitation, education and health. On the basis of the needs identified in the HNO, the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requests US$ 571 million for a range of interventions from legal assistance and the safe disposal of unexploded ordnance to the provision of health care and water after years of blockade and recurrent conflicts have eroded basic infrastructure, service delivery, livelihoods and coping mechanisms in Gaza. The HRP includes three main strategic objectives: protecting the rights of Palestinians under occupation and in accordance with international humanitarian law; ensuring acutely-vulnerable Palestinians under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank have access to essential services; and the strengthening of the ability of acutely-vulnerable Palestinian households to cope with protracted threats and shocks. For Gaza, the report states that particularly the Israeli restrictions on what it considers “dual use” items (both civilian and military) continue to impede basic service delivery and hamper reconstruction activities for internally displaced persons. UNRWA provides emergency food assistance, cash assistance, cash-for-work opportunities and support for resilient livelihoods to mitigate the impact of poverty and unemployment on Palestine refugees’ lives in Gaza.
Operational environment: During the reporting week, a number of protests and demonstrations took place across Gaza, predominantly demanding job opportunities and in solidarity with the family of three children who died as a result of a fire incident in their home on 6 May, and against the electricity crisis. Other demonstrations were held regardingalleged financial entitlements for families of those killed and injured during the 2014 summer hostilities, protesting the closure of Rafah, the blockade, perceived reductions of UNRWA services, in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli prisons, and to mark International Thalassemia Day and World Press Freedom Day.
On 3 May, a Palestinian who held a sit-in and started a hunger strike in Gaza City demanding the government for a job opportunity, was reportedly detained and released on 4 May. He reportedly continued the sit-in and hunger strike and was joined by approximately 400 persons. On 9 May, another Palestinian reportedly started a sit-in and hunger strike in Rafah, southern Gaza, demanding the government for a job opportunity. The police reportedly intervened and ended the sit-in.
On 4 May, one Palestinian was arrested by Israeli forces at Erez crossing while attempting to cross into Israel for medical treatment. On 7 May, a Palestinian male reportedly committed suicide by burning himself at his house north of Jabalia Camp. On 8 May, a family dispute was reported east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza. Pipe bombs were reportedly used and the police intervened and controlled the situation after several arrests. Two persons were reported as injured.
On 8 May, a fire reportedly broke out inside stores in Khan Younis, reportedly due to misuse of a gas cylinder. Local authorities rushed to the scene and controlled the situation. No injuries were reported.
On 8 May, a group of UNRWA site engineers held a sit-in at UNRWA Gaza Field Office. Approximately 100 engineers started the sit-in. On 9 May, 75 engineers continued the sit-in and briefly blocked the main entrance of the UNRWA compound. On 10 May the sit in ended after a dialogue mechanism was agreed to discuss their concerns.
“I STRONGLY CONTRIBUTE TO THE HUMANITARIAN WORK OF UNRWA AND HELP PEOPLE IN NEED”: THE IMPORTANT WORK OF UNRWA TRUCK DRIVERS IN GAZA
Karni Warehousing Industrial Zone is located inside the buffer zone - areas up to three kilometres into Gaza from the perimeter fence (44 per cent of the Gaza Strip) - off the Karni Crossing which was closed in 2011. The Palestinian PADICO company is responsible for operating the industrial zone, renting out storage facilities for Palestinian companies or humanitarian organizations.
UNRWA maintains 17 stores at the Karni industrial zone for basic commodities (food items), education supplies and Non-Food Items (NFIs) which are distributed during the first stage of emergencies. In addition to UNRWA, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and private companies maintain storage facilities at Karni.
Goods enter Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing into southern Gaza – the only official crossing open for the transfer of goods into and out of the Strip. From Kerem Shalom, UNRWA transports its humanitarian goods to two main warehouses, one in Rafah, southern Gaza and one at Karni. After goods pass quality and monitoring tests undertaken by the inspection unit of the UNRWA Logistics Office, they are further distributed to 48 UNRWA stores, including 12 Distribution Centres located across the Gaza Strip. To ensure high quality, the inspection unit conducts between four and 22 tests per month, depending on how many goods are imported. From the warehouses, goods are then distributed to different UNRWA facilities such as its Distribution Centres, Health Centres, schools or Relief and Social Service Offices.
Fares has worked with UNRWA for the past three years. Every morning at 7.30 he gathers at the UNRWA Gaza Field Office to receive the daily tasks from his supervisor. “Today, I transported chickpeas from Karni to the Al Tuffah Distribution Centre in Gaza city for the upcoming second round of food distribution this year,” he confirmed.
“When I transport goods to UNRWA Distribution Centres, I usually liaise with UNRWA personnel; however, sometimes when I arrive at the Centres beneficiaries are already waiting to receive their food assistance,” Fares added.
The UNRWA Logistics Office supports all UNRWA programmes and offices to provide high quality services for refugees, for example by maintaining and storing more than 120,000 tons of different supplies per year, such as food items including flour, rice, sugar, lentils, chickpeas, and non-food items like blankets, mattresses, school books and furniture. The Logistics Office distributes about 22,000 tons of food assistance to over 950,000 beneficiaries on a quarterly basis in addition to NFIs for affected families.
Fares is one of 130 UNRWA Gaza drivers, including 12 truck drivers who are responsible for the movement of approximately 20 truckloads daily, or approximately 4,800 per year, during normal operations. During emergencies, the UNRWA Logistics Office intensifies its efforts. At the peak of the 2014 summer conflict in Gaza, brave UNRWA truck drivers helped to ensure that over 290,000 internally displaced persons, sheltered in 90 UNRWA schools, were provided with live-saving food assistance, water as well as NFIs. Additionally, the logistics team continued with the distribution of regular in-kind food commodities to more than 830,000 persons, and implemented an exceptional food distribution of flour and rice to all persons who were not receiving the regular food assistance from UNRWA or the World Food Programme.
SUMMARY OF MAJOR INCIDENTS
During the reporting week, Israeli forces reportedly fired towards Palestinian areas along the perimeter fence and towards Palestinian boats on a daily basis. On 7 May, two Palestinians were reportedly arrested and their boat confiscated by Israeli forces.
A high number of security incidents taking place across Gaza near the perimeter fence were reported, near Erez, in Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun areas, northern Gaza, east of Gaza City, and east of Khan Younis and Rafah area, southern Gaza.
On 3 May, six Israeli bulldozers and three tanks reportedly entered approximately 100 metres east of Gaza city, to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. They withdrew on the same day.
On 3 May, militants reportedly opened fire towards Israeli Forces on the perimeter fence east of Gaza City. Israeli Forces reportedly responded with open fire. No injuries were reported.
During the rest of the reporting week militants reportedly fired 56 mortar shells towards Israeli Forces. Israeli Forces reportedly fired 36 shells towards Palestinians and used heavy machine gun fire twice, Israeli Forces aircrafts reportedly fired 18 missiles. Damages to two buildings in Gaza City were reported, one house and one building of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company. In total two Palestinians were reported injured, one in Gaza City and one in Rafah area, southern Gaza, and one 54-year old female Palestinian was reportedly killed in Rafah area, southern Gaza.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired six mortar shells to Israeli Forces who responded with three shells east of Gaza City. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, ten Israeli bulldozers reportedly entered approximately 100 metres into Rafah area in Southern Gaza, to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. Militants fired one mortar shell towards Israeli Forces who responded with two shells. They withdrew on the same day. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired one mortar shell from Beit Hanoun area, northern Gaza, towards Israeli forces at Erez Crossing. Israeli Forces responded with heavy machine gun fire. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, four Israeli bulldozers and two tanks reportedly entered approximately 100 metres east of Gaza City, to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. Militants fired seven mortar shells towards Israeli forces, who responded with three shells. They withdrew on the same day. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired one mortar shell from east of Gaza City towards Israeli Forces who responded with heavy machine gun fire. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired two mortar shells from east of Gaza City towards Israeli Forces who responded with one shell. Damage was reported to a building of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired one mortar shell from east of Gaza City towards Israeli Forces who responded with two shells. Damage was reported to a house. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired three mortar shell from east of Gaza City towards Israeli Forces. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired two mortar shells from east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired one mortar shell from east of Rafah, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces who responded with one shell. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, militants reportedly fired three mortar shells from east of Rafah, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces who responded with one shell. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, Israeli Forces reportedly fired five shells towards Palestinian areas in Rafah, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired two missiles towards Palestinian areas in Rafah area, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired two missiles towards Palestinian areas east of Rafah, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 4 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired one missile targeting a Hamas military site east of Rafah, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired two missiles targeting an Islamic Jihad military site north of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired one missile towards Palestinian areas in Gaza area. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired one missile towards Palestinian areas in Gaza area. One injury was reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired one missile targeting a Hamas military site. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, three Israeli bulldozers reportedly entered approximately 150 metres into Rafah area in southern Gaza, to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. They withdrew on the same day.
On 5 May, militants reportedly fired five mortar shells from east of Rafah, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces who responded with two tank shells. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces reportedly fired one shell towards Palestinian areas east of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, six Israeli bulldozers, two tanks and one excavator reportedly entered approximately 100 metres into Beit Hanoun area in northern Gaza, to conduct a clearing and excavation operation. They withdrew on the same day.
On 5 May, militants reportedly fired nine mortar shells from east of Rafah, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces who responded with seven tank shells. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired four missiles towards Palestinian areas east of Rafah, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired two missiles targeting a Hamas military site west of Rafah, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces reportedly fired four shells towards Palestinian areas northeast of Rafah, southern Gaza. One injury was reported.
On 5 May, militants reportedly fired three mortar shells from east of Rafah, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces who responded with three tank shells. One 54-year old female was reportedly killed.
On 5 May, militants reportedly fired two mortar shells from east of Rafah, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces. No injuries were reported.
On 5 May, Israeli Forces reportedly fired one shell towards Palestinian areas in Rafah area, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 6 May, militants reportedly fired two rockets from Beit Lahia, one reportedly dropped short and one landed in the sea. No injuries were reported.
On 6 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired one missile towards Palestinian areas in Khan Younis area, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 6 May, militants reportedly attempted to fire one rocket from east of Rafah, the rocket reportedly exploded at the launching site. No injuries were reported.
On 6 May, militants reportedly fired four mortar shells from east of Rafah, southern Gaza, towards Israeli Forces. No injuries were reported.
On 6 May, protests near the perimeter fence, involving approximately 30 persons, predominantly youth, took place east of Gaza city. Some participants managed to approach the perimeter fence and reportedly threw stones towards Israeli observation posts. Israeli security forces reportedly responded with gunfire and tear gas. The Ministry of Health reported that three Palestinians were injured as a result, two of them reportedly from gas inhalation.
On 7 May, militants reportedly fired two rockets from west of Khan Younis, one rocket reportedly dropped short and one landed in Eshkol region in southern Israel. No injuries or damages were reported.
On 7 May, Israeli Forces aircraft reportedly fired one missile towards Palestinian areas in Khan Younis area, southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.
On 8 May, militants reportedly attempted to fire one rocket from east of Deir El Balah area, the rocket reportedly exploded at the launching site. No injuries were reported.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 81 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 247 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 473 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.
As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2016, the Agency is seeking US$ 403 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt. The Agency requires US$ 355.95 million for programme interventions in Gaza, including US$ 109.7 million for emergency food assistance, US$ 142.3 million for emergency shelter assistance, US$ 60.4 million for emergency cash-for-work assistance, US$ 4.4 million for emergency health/mobile health clinics and US$ 3.1 for education in emergencies.
Read more in the 2016 oPt emergency appeal
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air. Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travelers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travelers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.
• Rafah crossing remained closed during the reporting week.
• Erez crossing is usually open six days a week. It was open for National ID holders (humanitarian cases, medical cases, merchants and UN staff) and international staff from 3 to 6 and from 8 to 10 May. It was closed on 7 May.
• Kerem Shalom crossing is the only official crossing open for the transfer of goods into and out of the Strip and is usually open five days a week. It was open from 3 to 5 and from 8 to 10 May. It was closed on 6 and 7 May