Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza Emergency Situation Report (as of 16 July 2014, 1500 hrs)

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 16 Jul 2014

Highlights

  • According to preliminary information, 77 per cent of Palestinian fatalities so far have been civilians, raising concerns about respect for international humanitarian law.

  • Indiscriminate rocket firing at Israeli population centres continues. Yesterday witnessed the first Israeli fatality since the start of the escalation in hostilities.

  • UNRWA/WFP are providing shelter, food and WASH assistance to 22,600 displaced Palestinians from northern Gaza hosted in UNRWA schools.

  • Up to half of Gaza’s population is without water supply due to the inability of technicians to repair and operate critical infrastructure.

Latest development: the Israeli army has accepted a UN initiative calling for a “humanitarian pause” to be implemented tomorrow between 10:00 and 15:00.

214 Palestinians killed, including at least 164 civilians, of whom 44 were children and 29 women

1,585 Palestinians injured, of whom 435 are children and 282 women1

1,660 Homes destroyed or severely damaged in Gaza directly displacing 9,900 persons.

22,600 Displaced people hosted at UNRWA schools

900,000 People without water supply due to inability to repair and operate infrastructure

Situation Overview

Yesterday afternoon, following a short unilateral lull in the context of a failed ceasefire attempt, the Israeli army resumed hostilities in Gaza. Alongside intense bombardments, the Israeli military delivered text messages to virtually all the residents of Ash Shuja’iyya and Az Zaitun neighborhoods in eastern Gaza city, approximately 100,000 people, warning them to leave their homes by 8 am today (16 July), ahead of attacks to be launched in the area. Subsequently, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza reportedly instructed the residents to remain calm and not flee the area. Despite the generalized fear, as of today’s afternoon, the vast majority decided to stay. Many of them reported that they feel there is no safe place to go to, or that they would be giving up their dignity by.

In contrast, in the past 24 hours, more residents of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun towns in northern Gaza have left their homes. Approximately 22,600 are being hosted in 24 UNRWA schools in Gaza City and Jabalia, compared to 18,000 yesterday, where they are provided with mattresses, water, hygiene kits, and evening meals of bread and tuna. Many reached the shelters on foot, after hours of walking with their belongings, as they could not find transportation or afford its costs. The relocation experience has been particularly traumatic for young children, the elderly and the disabled. Women have reported stress due to their inability to maintain basic modesty norms, with generally overcrowded spaces and mixed latrines.

In the meantime, the renewed attacks throughout Gaza, from the air, land and sea, have killed another 15 Palestinians in the last 24 hours, including at least two children and a woman. Among the fatalities was Subhi Abed Al-Hameed Hussein Mousa, a 78-year old farmer, killed on 15 July at around 15:00, when a missile hit an agricultural shed on his land, northwest of Khan Younis. Another farmer, Ismail Fatouh, 24-year old, was injured a few hours later during an airstrike in the Az Zaitun area, southeast of Gaza City, while reportedly irrigating his land, and died shortly after of his wounds.

Latest developments: initial reports indicate that four Palestinian children, members of the same family, were killed today in the afternoon hours, while playing on the beach of Gaza city, as a result of a shelling by the Israeli navy.

These incidents bring the Palestinian fatality toll since the start of the emergency to 214. According to preliminary information, at least 77 percent (164 people) were civilians, including 44 children and 29 women, 18 per cent (38 people) were members of armed groups, and the status of the remainder (12 people) could not be determined.2 The large proportion of civilians among the fatalities continues to raise concerns about the respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack under international humanitarian law.

Indiscriminate firing by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza at Israeli population centres also continued during the past 24 hours. Rockets, reportedly shot from Sinai, also targeted for the first time the southern city of Eilat. The period witnessed the first Israeli death since 7 July – a 37 year old man (Dror Hanin) hit by mortar shrapnel, while visiting soldiers next to the border with Gaza. The Magen David Adom (MDA) Israel, reported that the since the start of the emergency, MDA treated six people who were seriously or moderately injured (excluding the fatality) from shrapnel and fires caused by direct rocket strikes.

“We must be careful about the endless enumeration of casualty numbers. The dead and injured in Gaza are not anonymous. Behind the figures lie multiple individual destinies now torn apart. Too often in their lives have Gazan civilians been denied their dignity. Anonymity in death or injury is the ultimate denial.” Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, 15 July

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