Egeland condemns Israel’s “disproportionate use of force” in the Gaza Strip as 22 Palestinians are killed and 67 injured in the last 36 hours
Key developments since the last Situation Report on 18 July :
22 Palestinians were killed in the last 36 hours in the Gaza Strip (including a three-year-old girl). Wednesday (26 July) saw the highest daily death toll since 28 June - the start of what the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have code-named ‘Operation Summer Rains’.
Since the last Situation Report (18 July), there have been a significant number of Palestinian casualties - 50 dead and more than 230 injured - from IDF incursions, shellings and Israel Air Force (IAF) air strikes.
Of the 150 Palestinians that have been killed since 28 June, approximately one-quarter of have been reported as children (31). At least 541 Palestinians have been injured. During the same period, one IDF soldier has been killed and 14 other soldiers injured. Seven Israelis have also been injured by Palestinian homemade rockets that have been fired into Israel (on average between 8 and 9 have been fired each day).
Ninety-seven families (703 people) were forced to abandon their homes in and around the village of As Shouka (in the southern Gaza Strip) due to a rise in IDF shelling. UNRWA is now operating three shelters in Jabalia (northern Gaza Strip) sheltering 747 people who have fled the northern areas following intensified IDF artillery shelling.
Since 24 July, the IDF telephoned at least four Palestinian families giving them as little as 30 minutes to evacuate their homes before launching air strikes which demolished two houses (accommodation for eight families) and damaged four others.
An IDF observation post at Erez crossing came under fire from Palestinian militants on 23 July. Since then, the crossing has been subject to frequent closure by the IDF as a security alert remains in place. Karni crossing has been subject to closure and partial closure since 21 July. Nahal Oz pipelines are closed today for the first time since 9 July.
Jan Egeland, the UN’s senior humanitarian official, toured the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and visited an UNRWA health clinic damaged by Israeli incursions and the power station destroyed by an IAF air strike. “This was clearly a disproportionate use of force,” he said.
Developments in detail
An IDF military incursion is currently ongoing in Shijieh to the east of Gaza City.
Many of the recent Palestinian casualties occurred during the IDF incursion into Maghazi camp between 19 and 20 July when 17 people were killed and 107 injured.
Since the start of the military offensive, the IDF have fired approximately 200-250 artillery shells per day into the Gaza Strip and Palestinians have fired, on average, nine homemade rockets each day towards Israel. Since 28 June, the IAF have conducted 202 air strikes.
The IDF dropped leaflets over the Gaza Strip on 20 and 25 July warning residents that their homes would be targeted if they were storing weapons.
Due to the intensification of the IDF shelling around the Palestinian village of As Shoka (southern Gaza Strip, near Gaza International Airport) 133 families (953 people) had left the area by 22 July and were temporarily sheltered in an UNRWA school in Rafah. By 25 July, UNRWA had found these displaced persons alternative accommodation. This was the second time that Palestinian families had fled the area since 28 June.
Crossing points and humanitarian access
An IDF observation post at Erez crossing came under fire from Palestinian militants on 23 July. Since then Erez has been frequently closed (closed between 11:30am-5:30pm on 23 July; all day on 24 July; 11:30am-3pm on 25 July; and 12 - 4:30pm on 26 July). Erez was open this morning (Thurs.) between 8am-12 pm on 27 July.
Karni crossing has been periodically closed since 21 July (closed on 22 and 23 July; until 3:15pm on 24 July; and on 25 and 26 July). Karni crossing has been closed for 17 days since 25 June (excluding Saturdays) and on the remaining days when it was open it was for imports only.
Rafah crossing opened on 19 July for arrivals only and 270 people entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt. (Earlier on 18 July, 4,908 people had crossed into the Gaza Strip following the closure of the crossing since 25 June). There is no indication when the crossing will next open.
Between 19 and 26 July, WFP delivered 36 containers (774 tonnes) of wheatflour into the Gaza Strip through Karni and brought out 26 empty containers. This is equivalent to one week’s supply to WFP beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip. WFP still has 46 empty containers in the Gaza Strip and 79 containers (1,700 tonnes) of wheatflour and chickpeas currently waiting to enter the Gaza Strip.
UNRWA currently has 214 empty containers in the Gaza Strip and 143 containers at Ashdod port in Israeli destined for the Gaza Strip. Karni closure has cost UNRWA $732,000 to date this year in additional storage, demurrage and transport charges.
It is nearly one month since the IAF targeted the Gaza power station in the early hours of 28 June. Since that time, all Palestinian households in the Gaza Strip have been experiencing major disruptions to their daily lives as a result of intermittent power supplies.
The humanitarian situation has continued to deteriorate as families have tried to adjust their lives to receiving on average, 6-8 hours of electricity per day and for most families living in urban areas as little as 2 - 3 hours of water per day. Water is insufficient to meet daily needs in households across the Gaza Strip.
During a visit to the Gaza power station on 25 July, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, described the bombing of the power station by the IAF as “disproportionate”.
Water and sanitation
The electrical and water networks continue to remain unsynchronised as the limited generation of power via the national grid does not coincide with the water distribution network.
Since 20 July, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) has started to receive fuel under the auspices of the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). An agreement has been reached to supply the CMWU with 920,000 litres of fuel per month over the next six months for its water and waste water facilities. The CMWU distributed 108,000 litres of water on 20 and 21 July. OXFAM (GB) has also signed an agreement with the CMWU to provide six generators and spare parts to the CMWU.
UNICEF has committed to provide the CMWU with 10 mobile water tanks (5,000 litres each) to be pre-positioned in the five Gaza governorates. In addition, UNICEF will also provide 25 water testing kits (for testing water quality) to each of the municipalities.
UNRWA distributed 90,000 litres of water in the past week to those who have had their water supply cut and to UNRWA shelters in Maghazi, Rafah and Jabalia.
Nahal Oz is closed today. Nahal Oz energy pipelines (used for the import of fuel from Israel) were open each day (excluding Saturdays) since 9 July for diesel, petrol and cooking gas.
UNDP with German funding is now supplying 245,000 litres of fuel to the Gaza municipality to support its water, waste water and solid waste disposal services. This assistance will continue on until the end of July.
According to WHO, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is facing increasing difficulties in meeting its essential drugs list in the Gaza Strip. 67 of the 473 items on the list are out of stock in the Central Drugs Store. An additional 170 items on the disposables list are also now out of stock.
Fishermen have now been unable to access the seas since 25 June meaning there is no longer fish in the local markets.
Mercy Corps International (MCI) started an emergency food distribution today (Wed.) that will provide 317 families in the Gaza middle area with food parcels. The distribution will target vulnerable families in Wadi Salqa and Za’afran neighbourhoods along with families affected by the incursion in eastern Maghazi.
Shelter and land
According to an initial UNRWA assessment, the IDF operations in Maghazi camp caused extensive damage - four homes and two farms were completely destroyed and a further 76 homes damaged. An estimated 200 dunums (20 hectares) of olive, palm and almond trees and farmland were uprooted by IDF bulldozers and tanks. Dozens of bullet holes were visible in the UNRWA Maghazi Elementary and Maghazi Preparatory boys schools and windows broken at the nearby UNRWA health centre.
Since 25 June, UN agencies, the ICRC and humanitarian NGOs continue to hold regular coordination meetings to monitor sectoral needs and coordinate response. A UN interagency meeting as well as a health sector meeting chaired by WHO were held on 19 July. Jan Egeland, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, was involved in a roundtable discussion with UN agencies, the ICRC and NGOs on 25 July in Gaza City.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA oPt)
BY TOPIC: Israel invades Gaza (27 June 2006
 This is the eighth Situation Report issued by OCHA in the June/July 2006 period. The previous reports were published on 21, 27, 30 of June and 4, 6, 12 and 18 July and are available on www.ochaopt.org.