Gaza Situation Report, 21 November 2012
For the eighth consecutive day, intensive Israeli Air Force (IAF) strikes, heavy tank shelling and Israeli navy fire are causing destruction and devastation. Massive explosions have been heard throughout the Gaza Strip during the most intense round of attacks since the beginning of the military escalation last Wednesday. The number of civilian casualties continues to rise.
An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ground operation has not occurred, as high-level political meetings, which included the UN Secretary General and representatives of Western and Arab countries, convened in Jerusalem and Cairo in an effort to achieve a ceasefire. Accompanying the Secretary General in Ramallah was the UNRWA Commissioner-General, who provided a first-hand account of the conditions facing Palestinians in Gaza.
Many families are gathering in overcrowded apartments located in areas that they hope are less likely to be targeted. However, as shelling of residential building persists, the population grows weary and evermore fearful.
An IAF air strike overnight destroyed a major bridge of the Beach Road that is a main link between North-Central and South Gaza. Media offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press have also been damaged. Additionally, the Israeli attacks continue to target government buildings and infrastructure, police stations, tunnels, and mosques.
Leaflets dropped in border areas and parts of Gaza City advised the civilian population to leave their houses immediately for their own safety. UNRWA responded immediately by opening schools to provide shelter for those seeking safety.
Rocket firing towards Israel has intensified, with Hamas threatening that the worst is yet to come if the Israeli attacks continue.
Streets remained largely deserted. People only move if absolutely necessary.
Some food stores, fruit and vegetable markets, and pharmacies remain open. Prices are closely monitored by the local authorities and have remained unchanged. Shortages in supplies are expected following extended closure of the commercial crossing, Kerem Shalom.
Very heavy IAF bombardment of the tunnel area, resulting in some catching fire, was reported overnight. The remaining tunnels, including those used for fuel, have been disrupted today.
The Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby visited Gaza on Tuesday afternoon; he was accompanied by a delegation of foreign ministers from Arab countries.