This report is produced by OCHA oPt in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 28 July (1500 hrs) to 29 July (1500 hrs). The next report will be issued on 30 July.

Highlights 

  • Last night witnessed one of the heaviest Israeli bombardments since the start of the emergency, including the targeting of many residential buildings, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties.
  • Gaza's sole power plant shut down after being hit and damaged: the additional reduction in electricity supply is expected to have a pervasive impact on the availability of food and access of people to basic services.
  • The Israeli army warned all Palestinian civilians living within the Israeli imposed three kilometer wide 'buffer zone', to evacuate the area, except for three localities, ahead of further attacks.
  • The number of IDPs exceeds 240,000; UNRWA has exhausted its absorption capacity in Gaza City and northern Gaza, while overcrowding at its shelters raises concerns about the outbreak of epidemics.

Situation Overview

The Gaza emergency enters its fourth week amidst a severe deterioration in the humanitarian situation. Last night witnessed one of the heaviest Israeli bombardments so far, resulting in dozen of additional civilian fatalities along with widespread destruction of civilian property. An external wall of Shifa, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, was hit and damaged, and another UNRWA staff member was killed, mounting to five UNRWA staff killed so far.

Of particular concern is the damage sustained by the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), which brought the operation of the plant to a halt. Consequently, Gaza city is receiving electricity for about two hours a day, while localities in the Middle Area have no supply at all. This is expected to have a pervasive impact on the living conditions for several months, including in the

Excludes individuals whose bodies were recovered during the pause but not yet identified. 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. functioning of water, sanitation and health facilities, as well as in food production, including the functioning of flour mills and bakeries.

In the last 24 hours, the Israeli military also warned the majority of those who have remained within the three kilometer-wide `buffer zone', to move westwards, ahead of further attacks, with the exception of residents of eastern Jabaliya, Al-Maghazi and Al Bureij camps, and Bani Suheila village. As a result, the number of internally displaced persons (IDP) has increased to over 240,000. This has exacerbated overcrowding at UNRWA schools and raised concerns about the outbreak of epidemics.

The Secretary-General has learned with concern that leaflets are reportedly being dropped by the Israeli Defence Forces in the northern Gaza Strip… this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days. The United Nations agencies present in Gaza do not have the resources on the ground to cope with, or provide assistance to, an enormous extra influx of desperate people.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, 28 July

Hostilities and casualties

Since the last situation update, at least 51 persons have been killed or died of injuries they sustained previously, including at least nine children and 13 women. According to media reports, however, the number of deaths during the overnight bombings is larger and may include as many as 36 additional fatalities, whose bodies are still buried under the rubble or who could not yet be identified.

Overnight, the town of Rafah, in the south, was subject to the most intense shelling since the start of the emergency, killing nearly half of the people that fall within the reporting period (23); at least eight residential buildings were targeted and destroyed and three severely damaged, resulting in most of these casualties.

Heavy tank shelling and fighting were recorded also in Al Bureij camp in the middle area. According to initial reports, in one of the incidents, involving the targeting of a residential building in the camp, 16 members of the Abu Jabber extended family, were reportedly killed, including five children: Muhamad, three years old, Lina, two years old, and Jihad, Toga, and Jamal, all one year old. The house of Al Bureij's mayor has been also targeted, killing him, his father (76) and his nine year old nephew, from the Abu Shamaleh family.

Since the launch of the Israeli military operation, hundreds of homes have reportedly been directly targeted by Israeli airstrikes, and it is estimated that approximately 750 targeted residential structures (including multi-storey buildings) have been totally destroyed or severely damaged, causing hundreds of civilian casualties, including multiple members of the same families.

“Civilian homes are not legitimate targets unless they are being used for, or contribute to, military purposes at the time in question… Even where a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate, offer a definite military advantage in the prevailing circumstances at the time, and precautions must be taken…. A number of incidents, along with the high number of civilian deaths, belies the claim that all necessary precautions are being taken to protect civilian lives.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay at the Human Rights Council 21st Special Session, 23 July 2014.

From 7 July to 14.00 today, according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, Israeli air, naval and ground strikes in Gaza have killed at least 1,118 Palestinians. This includes at least 827 civilians (74 per cent of total fatalities); including 243 children and 131 women, 180 members of armed groups and 110 persons whose status is yet unknown.

During the reporting period, nine Israeli soldiers have been killed in Israel, next to the fence with Gaza, bringing to 53 the number of Israeli military fatalities since the beginning of the ground offensive on 17 July; this is over five times higher than the number of soldiers killed in the “Cast Lead” offensive in 2008/9. Indiscriminate firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza into southern and central Israel continued, with most falling in open areas or intercepted by the Iron Dome system, resulting in no additional civilian fatalities during the reporting period. Since 8 July, three civilians in Israel have been killed, including one foreign national, and a few dozen directly injured by rockets or shrapnel.

Displacement

Following the new calls by the Israeli army to evacuate most areas on the eastern side of the Gaza Strip, some 21,000 more people have sought refuge at UNRWA schools operating as emergency shelters, which as of this afternoon were hosting 200,400 IDPs. That is over 11 per cent of the total Gazan population and nearly four times more than those sheltered by UNRWA at the peak of the three-week long Israeli Operation “Cast Lead” in 2008/09. An average of nearly 2,400 IDPs are taking refuge in each of the 85 UNRWA schools, which normally have the capacity to accommodate only 500 people, and have not been designed as living spaces. Shelters are under great pressure, without adequate water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure in place, raising concern about the outbreak of epidemics.

It is estimated that another 10,000 IDPs are residing in 13 government schools, four of whom are receiving supplies from UNRWA. Another 40 government schools, which have been identified as shelters and their coordinates shared with the Israeli army, are expected to open. Another 7,000 IDPs are reportedly seeking refuge in public buildings across Gaza city alone. This is in addition to the approximately 24,000 individuals who have been displaced, and are hosted by friends or relatives as destruction or damage to their homes has rendered them uninhabitable. It remains unknown how many people who have fled the conflict are staying with host families, but it is estimated that this number ranges in the tens of thousands.

Electricity supply

A fuel tank supplying the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) was hit and damaged, shutting down operations. According to the Palestinian Energy Authority, repairs could take months to complete. This is the third attack affecting the GPP since the start of the emergency. Additionally, despite some repairs, the previously damaged ten feeder lines from Israel remained down. Therefore Gaza currently receives just 64 megawats of electricity from Egypt and Israel, less than 18 per cent of the estimated demand.

This places additional burdens on the provision of essential services. Hospitals will depend more heavily on their own diesel-powered generators, which are not adequate to power 1 services for extended periods. Previously, hospital generators have burned out with extensive use, and power fluctuations damage finely calibrated medical equipment. Shifa hospital, for example, is able to provide full power for its operating theatres but cuts its non-essential, but still needed services, in other areas.

Key humanitarian priorities

Protection of civilians: ensuring respect for the IHL principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack.

Humanitarian space: increased access for humanitarian workers to carry out life-saving activities, for example, through regular and meaningful humanitarian pauses or corridors for the evacuation of the injured. This is needed among other reasons, to complete search and rescue operations in several areas, and repair critical water and electricity infrastructure.

Additional fuel supply: needed to operate backup generators at essential facilities, including water, sanitation and health, for longer hours.

Scale up response to IDPs: additional shelters are needed to reduce overcrowding and accommodate new IDPs, alongside the replenishment of food, water and hygiene materials, and NFI stocks. Assistance for IDPs living with host families also needs to be increased, particularly the provision of NFIs and water and hygiene kits.

Update on Gaza Crossings:

Erez: On 29 July, the crossing was open during a limited time only for specific and pre-coordinated movement only.

Beit Hanoun (Arba-Arba): Closed until further notice but still accessible.

Kerem Shalom: The crossing was open on 29 July from 10:00 until at least 15:00. On 28 July, 31 truckloads of mostly food, water, medicine, blankets and hygiene kits entered Gaza through this crossing; no goods for the private market or fuel were transferred.

Rafah: Open today from 9:00 to 15:00. A total of 12 injured Palestinians exited Gaza through this crossing. On 28 July, five truckloads of food supplies entered via Rafah.

Humanitarian needs and response

Protection

Needs 

  • At least 270,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS).
  • Child protection and psychosocial support is urgently required to address issues of child abuse, exploitation and violence inside shelters and refuges.
  • Thousands of explosive remnants of war are left in civilian areas affected by conflict, causing a major threat to children.

Response

  • Protection Cluster members continue monitoring and investigating incidents to identify possible violations of international law, as well as consolidating information on civilian fatalities.
  • UNMAS deployed an UXO clearance expert to Gaza on 28 July, while UNRWA is providing basic unexploded ordnance (UXO) awareness in shelters.
  • Updates on PSS activities to be included tomorrow

Gaps and Constraints

  • Ongoing hostilities continue to impede movement of child protection staff and emergency PSS teams, as well as access to basic services for children and their families.
  • Sawa Child Protection Help Line needs additional trained counsellors who can answer phone calls.
  • Due to the rapidly increasing need, the number of social workers and psychosocial support counsellors at hospitals is insufficient.
  • Displaced children and their families hosted with relatives remain largely unreached by child protection interventions.
  • Due to the precarious security environment and ongoing military operations, verification of information, in particular in regards to casualties, is difficult.

Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI)

Needs

  • Opening of government schools identified as potential shelters is required to accommodate new and expected IDPs
  • As of yesterday, 4,025 families (approximately 24,150 individuals) whose homes were totally destroyed or sustained major damage require emergency NFI kits. In the medium term, they will need cash assistance.
  • NFI emergency shelter repair interventions are needed for about 4,565 families (27,390 individuals), whose homes sustained damage but are still inhabitable. 26,200 families (157,200 individuals), whose homes sustained minor damage also require basic NFI assistance.

Response

  • More than 200,300 people are being provided with shelter in 85 designated UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip and an estimated 10,000 individuals are sheltered in 15 government and private schools, and other facilities.
  • Gaps and Constraints
  • Cash assistance of over US$ 20 million is needed to allow 4,025 families to cover rental fees and urgent expenses.
  • Emergency shelter kits are required for 2,600 families.
  • Additional shelters for IDPs are required to reduce overcrowding at UNRWA schools and accommodate the needs of new IDPs displaced from communities who have received evacuation orders in the last 24 hours.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Needs

  • With the shutdown of the GPP, additional fuel supply to run the water wells is a key priority.
  • The Deir al Balah Desalination Plant requires additional fuel to resume water pumping into the network.
  • Insecticides and medicines are needed in Rafah to treat epidemics such as lice and scabies, which started to spread in shelters
  • IDPs as well as communities disconnected from the municipal water supply need water tankering.

Response

  • UNRWA, supported by local municipalities, is providing water tankering to IDPs in UNRWA shelters in areas where water pumping is currently not possible due to damaged or inaccessible WASH infrastructure. Water tankering is provided to informal shelters as well.
  • On 28 July, UNRWA sanitation workers removed an estimated 193 tons of solid waste.
  • WASH cluster will coordinate with health authorities the treatment of epidemics in Rafah.

Gaps and constraints

  • Additional funding is required to cover fuel supply to run back-up generators
  • The lack of safe access to water and sanitation facilities for maintenance and repair is the biggest constraint.
  • Most WASH facilities east of Salah ad Din road and in northern Gaza (buffer zone) have not been accessible for repairs, and are also likely to be inaccessible to water trucking due to the unsafe security situation.
  • UNRWA shelters are under great pressure as a result of overcrowding, without adequate WASH infrastructure in place to accommodate for the high number of IDPs.

Health and Nutrition

Needs

  • At least 23 health facilities which have been destroyed or sustained damage due to shelling require repair or reconstruction.
  • The health needs, including mental health needs for displaced families sheltering in UNRWA schools and other emergency shelters, need to be immediately addressed.
  • Psycho-tropic drugs for patients with mental illness, trauma and anxiety are in critically short supply.
  • Shifa hospital urgently needs neurosurgeons, anaesthesiologists, plastic and general surgeons, and orthopedic specialists, as well as 20 ICU beds, a digital C-ARM machine for orthopedic surgeries, three operation tables and a lighting system for the five operation rooms.

Response

Will be covered in tomorrow's Situation Report.

Gaps and constraints

  • The destruction of the GPP puts another burden on the Ministry of Health's ability to provide continuance of care for patients.
  • Only two of six Community Mental Health Centers are functioning (in Rafah and Zwaydeh).
  • Shortage of medical equipment, skilled medical teams and drugs and disposables means that complex surgeries for vascular, neurological and spine cord injuries are being referred outside of Gaza.
  • Lack of adequate protection of health facilities and personnel is impeding emergency assistance to sick and injured.
  • The military incursion restricts access to healthcare for wounded and for patients with acute and chronic illness.
  • The health and environmental condition in shelters is a major concern, especially lack of water and hygiene materials. Municipal garbage collection has almost stopped, which increases public health risks.

Food Security

Will be covered in tomorrow's Situation Report.

Education

Needs

The total of damaged schools since the start of the emergency now stands at 133, including

49 government schools and 84 UNRWA schools, in need of repair.

Response

NTR

Gaps & Constraints

Access restrictions impede the ability to assess impact of hostilities and carry out repairs to damaged school infrastructure.

General Coordination

The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) continues its daily meetings, focusing primarily on the coordination of the IDP response and challenges related to humanitarian space. Some EOC members also carried out monitoring visits to hospitals and government school shelters. Most EOC members used the humanitarian pause to pre-position supplies, reach previously inaccessible areas and conduct rapid assessments and monitoring visits. The EOC Secretariat met in Ramallah to discuss a coordinated approach to appeals by different Ministries. OCHA discussed the preparation of the HCT Gaza Crisis Appeal with MOPAD. The Launching of the humanitarian appeal is scheduled for 1 August, in Ramallah.

OCHA, UNRWA, Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoElfE), Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS) and Internal Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continue the coordination of opening up additional government schools for IDP shelters.

Funding

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 latest cluster/sector analysis, it is estimated that US $69 million is now needed for immediate assistance in Gaza, excluding UNRWA's requirements. Some clusters have also made a latest estimate so far of up to US $220 million that is needed for medium term interventions once the security situation permits. The Humanitarian Country Team has begun development of a dedicated Gaza Crisis Appeal which will be finalized by 1 August to address urgent humanitarian needs resulting from the conflict. The appeal once finalized will supersede earlier HCT estimates.

UNRWA has issued its own emergency flash appeal which was revised up to US $115 million this week. The amount requested will help UNRWA respond to the urgent needs of the currently, 159,000 IDPs taking shelter in its facilities, 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 per cent of their requested funding.

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. Thus far, two ACF project proposals, (totaling US$ 368,624) to distribute NFI and water storage tanks to 1,475 households in Gaza, are being processed. Three additional proposals were approved today: support for the emergency needs of neonatal units in Gaza hospitals by procurement of essential drugs and disposables submitted by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), the provision of food packages and hygiene kits to IDPs hosted in Shelters in Rafah and Khan Yunis by Dan Church Aid; and for the management of ERW to reduce the risk posed to civilians by UNMASt. 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.

UN humanitarian agencies, in cooperation with NGO partners are finalizing an application to the CERF Rapid Response window covering urgent needs in food assistance, psychosocial support, WASH, rubble removal and critical drugs.

Background to the crisis

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, maes@un.org, +972 59 291 1047

Yehezkel Lein, Head of Analysis, Communications and Protection Unit, OCHA oPt, lein@un.org, +972 54 331 1809

For media enquiries, please contact:

Hayat Abu-Saleh, Communications and Information Analyst, OCHA oPt, abusaleh@un.org, +972 (0) 54 3311816

For more information, please visit www.ochaopt.org

Endnote

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.