Key developments in the last three days1:
• Between 15 and 20 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) moved into the Gaza Strip from the northern border at noon today and positioned themselves in the former Nisanit settlement area. Palestinian security forces were advised to leave their positions in the area and the IDF closed Erez crossing at 11am today.
• The Gaza Electrical Distribution Company (GEDCO) continues to load-share the available electric supply across the Gaza Strip though power is intermittent and often not synchronised with water supply to households. Families face difficulties to secure water for personal hygiene.
• Nahal Oz energy pipelines reopened for the import of fuel into the Gaza Strip on 2 July. Karni crossing opened on 2 July and 96 truckloads of commercial supplies entered. Karni was closed again on 3 July but reopened today at 12:40pm for imports including humanitarian supplies from WFP and UNRWA.
• Some shortages in essential food commodities have been reported by WFP inside the Gaza Strip – there are two days supply available for sugar and eight days supply for animal feed. Milk and dairy products are available in minimal quantities.
• There have been 25 sonic booms from Israel Air Force (IAF) aircraft since 28 June across the Gaza Strip. Most occurred pre-dawn.
• After an IAF air strike destroyed all six transformers at Gaza’s power station on 28 June, the GEDCO is load-sharing the remaining power provided by the Israel Electrical Corporation (IEC) in an effort to provide most households with 6 – 8 hours of power per day; however, many households are currently receiving less.
• The IEC has ten feeders entering the Gaza Strip from Israel while a further two that used to serve the northern and Gush Katif settlement bloc were discontinued in September 2005. GEDCO is in discussions with the IEC to increase power supplies obtained.
• The Nahal Oz energy pipelines were open for the third successive day following closure between 26 June and 1 July. Unless fuel supplies remain continuous and uninterrupted, shortages will quickly reemerge. The prior closure caused severe fuel shortages in the Gaza Strip and most fuel stations observed by the UN had closed down over the weekend. Quantities of fuel imported into the Gaza Strip:
• Generators are being increasingly relied on to ensure continuous power supply in hospitals, sewage treatment plants and water wells. Municipalities and other public agencies have requested international organisations to cover the costs of the fuel supplies needed to power the generators. With the extended use of generators, there is a concern over maintenance and the ability to source spare parts.
Water and sanitation
• With the electricity shortages, generators are being increasingly relied upon to power the 132 water wells. The Coastal Water Municipalities Union (CMWU) estimates that its needs 15,000 litres of fuel per day for these generators.
• In many cases, families are not receiving power and water at the same time or electricity available is not sufficient to pump the water into apartment blocks. Families are finding it difficult to secure water in their homes for personal hygiene and there is concern about the outbreak of water-borne diseases in the current hot temperatures.
• According to WHO, the lack of water is also affecting waste-water treatment and disposal and there are concerns for public health problems related to insects and sewage leaking into the aquifer.
• According to WHO, generators are currently available in all 11 Gaza hospitals and in approximately 50% of the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) primary health care clinics (PHC). WHO reported that hospitals have fuel stocks for one week and PHC’s have stocks for two weeks. The MoH estimates that it needs 26,000 litres of fuel per day (based on 16 hours of usage). This could rise to 40,000 litres per day if hospitals have to rely on generators 24 hours a day.
• Generators are crucial to ensure cold-chain supplies such as for vaccines. In northern Gaza where four of ten of the PHCs are without generators, cold-chain items are being distributed among the remaining six facilities with continuous electrical supply.
• According to WHO, coordination is possible for critical cases through Erez crossing although no patients crossed between 30 June and 3 July.
• Israeli naval vessels continue to prevent Palestinian fisherman from fishing off the Gaza Strip coastline. WFP is concerned about the impact of the disappearance of fish from the local market, a vital source of protein. According to WFP, fish stocks in the market place are running low owing to the prolonged fishing restrictions and loss of permanent refrigeration capacity over the last week.
• Karni crossing reopened on 2 July following a prolonged closure since 25 June. Ninety-six truckloads of commercial supplies entered including wheat, flour, cooking oil, milk, fruit and vegetables. No exports exited Karni.
• Karni crossing was closed again on 3 July but reopened today at 12:40pm. WFP and UNRWA report that some of their humanitarian supplies had already crossed by mid-afternoon.
• WFP reports a high rate of loss of perishable goods including dairy products, eggs, meat and poultry as refrigeration capacity is unreliable. WFP has also noted price increases of nearly 10% in basic commodities including wheat flour, sugar, rice and oil in the markets.
• Some shortages in essential food commodities have been observed in the Gaza Strip. According to WFP, there are only two days left of sugar and eight days of animal feed in the Gaza Strip. Supplies of milk and dairy products are only available in minimal quantities.
• International organisations including WFP and UNRWA have pre-positioned food supplies in the Gaza Strip. WFP reports that it has a ten-day food supply for 160,000 people and UNRWA has prepositioned food for 158,000 refugee families as part of its ongoing regular distribution.3
Crossing points and humanitarian access
• Erez crossing closed at 11am today. Erez was used by diplomats and humanitarian workers including UN staff entering and exiting the Gaza Strip (non-diplomats required prior coordination with the IDF).
• All crossing points into the Gaza Strip remain closed for the movement of Palestinian goods and people. Rafah, Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings remain closed for ten days (25 June – 4 July). Between 300 – 400 Palestinians have been stuck on the Egyptian side of Rafah as a result of the closure of Rafah crossing over the last ten days.
• UNRWA has 405 containers with humanitarian supplies destined for the Gaza Strip, being held at the Israeli port of Ashdod accumulating demurrage and storage charges on a daily basis. Demurrage charges of $20 per day per container payable to the container owner. UNRWA also has 203 empty containers inside the Gaza Strip dependant on the opening of Karni crossing accruing similar charges.
Protection of civilians
• In the last 24 hours, large numbers of IDF forces have crossed the border into northern Gaza and are holding positions several hundred metres to the east of Beit Hanoun. Bulldozers are currently levelling land in the area. Between 15 and 20 Israel IDF tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) moved into the Gaza Strip from the northern border at noon today and positioned themselves in the former Nisanit settlement area.
• Due to the presence of the IDF around the former Gaza International Airport, a number of Palestinian families in the nearby Shouka area have not been able to leave their homes. ICRC has intervened with food parcels, supporting a total of 28 families last weekend.
• There have been 25 sonic booms since 28 June across the Gaza Strip, most of the booms occurring in the early hours of the morning. Sonic booms, generated by aircraft breaking the sound barrier at low altitudes, induce fear, panic and anxiety across the Gaza Strip.
• Six Palestinians have been killed (including four members of Hamas and one member of Islamic Jihad) since 26 June and 16 Palestinians injured. Seven Israelis, including three IDF soldiers, have been injured in and around the Gaza Strip in the same period.
• Since 26 June, 43 homemade rockets has been fired by Palestinian militants towards Israel. Hundreds of IDF artillery shells have been fired daily into the northern and eastern border areas.4 The IAF has conducted 84 air strikes in the Gaza Strip, including on the Prime Minister’s offices (2 July) and the Islamic University (4 July).
– End –
1 This is the fourth Situation Report issued by OCHA in June/July 2006 relating to an escalation in the number of Palestinian and Israeli casualties in and around the Gaza Strip in June and the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip following the attack by Palestinian militants on an Israeli military post at Kerem Shalom on 25 June. Two IDF soldiers and two Palestinian militants were killed, four IDF soldiers were injured and one IDF soldier was taken captive by the militants into the Gaza Strip in the attack and on 28 June the IDF launched Operation ‘Summer Rains’. The previous reports were published on 21, 27 and 30 June and are available on www.ochaopt.org.
2 Daily Gaza consumption requirements as calculated by the Palestinian General Petroleum Corporation.
3 Since 25 June UN agencies have been meeting on a regular basis to identify sectoral needs in relation to the current situation and coordinating the response in the event of an intensification of the conflict.
4 The Palestinian DCL has not forwarded the number of artillery shells in recent days as they do not have power at their offices and have only been attending on a sporadic basis.
Document Sources: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Subject: Gaza Strip, Humanitarian relief, Incidents
Publication Date: 04/07/2006