International Committee of the Red Cross 9 August 2006
The following information appeared in the report entitled: “ICRC Bulletin No. 04/06 - Gaza”.
The situation in the Gaza Strip remains extremely volatile, with the ongoing closure of the territory (including Rafah terminal), continued military operations and violent confrontations keeping the level of tension high.
In this bleak and unpredictable environment, the ICRC is still widely viewed as a neutral humanitarian agency by beneficiaries and contacts and, often, as the only glimmer of hope.
In the early hours of 3 August, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a new incursion into the Shoka area (south-east of Rafah), which lasted for three days. Heavy shooting and shelling reportedly led to 17 deaths and injured 43 persons in this period. Eleven houses and greenhouses were destroyed and agricultural fields were levelled over a large area. Several roads were blocked and water pipes were broken by bulldozers and tanks.
From the second night of the operation, the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza and its office in Khan Yunis received dozens of calls from residents reporting water shortages. The affected area, only 60 per cent of which is covered by the municipal water network, has 12,000 to 14,000 inhabitants. During the incursion, an estimated 300 households under movement restrictions were affected by the shortages.
On 5 August, after getting the green light from the IDF, four ICRC teams and one Palestine Red Crescent team accompanied two 10,000-litre water trucks (provided by the municipality) to the affected area and distributed water to the inhabitants by means of buckets and jerrycans.
The ICRC also obtained IDF clearance for two municipal workers from Rafah to enter the area and open four valves, allowing an entire neighbourhood to receive water from the network. Water distribution continued the following day, with the arrival of another two 10,000-litre and four 4,000-litre trucks.
During the three-day incursion, ICRC delegates facilitated access by Palestine Red Crescent ambulances to various parts of Shoka. Thirteen people were safely evacuated and permission was given for one family to leave the area in order to bury their dead.