Protection of Civilians Weekly Report 7-13 November 2012

Latest developments (as of 15 November, 17:00)

ISRAEL LAUNCHES LARGE MILITARY OFFENSIVE IN GAZA; MULTIPLE CASUALTIES AMONG PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI CIVILIANS

On 14 November at approximately 1545 hrs, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched an airstrike that targeted and killed the acting chief of Hamas’ armed wing and one of his associates. This incident marked the opening of a large military offensive, which is ongoing. The offensive followed several weeks of intermittent escalations in violence, with the last round taking place between 8 and 11 November.

In the last 24 hours, the IAF conducted over 100 airstrikes, supplemented by navy and tank shelling, all of which continue. Most attacks reportedly targeted military facilities, many of which were located in residential areas. Initial reports indicate that 15 Palestinians, of whom at least six were civilians (including an infant, two children and a pregnant woman), were killed as a result of the attacks; more than 130 others, including at least 100 civilians, were injured. At least seven houses were almost entirely destroyed and over 120 sustained minor damages.

Palestinian factions fired over 200 rockets and mortars, indiscriminately directed at communities and cities in southern Israel. While dozens of the rockets were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome system, many others fell within or near residential areas. This morning one of them hit a house in Kiryat Malachi, killing three Israeli civilians and injuring three others (including a child); later today three soldiers were injured. Damage to civilian property was also reported.

The uninterrupted waves of airstrikes and indiscriminate rocket fire have also triggered widespread fear among the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, particularly among children, with dozens having to be treated for shock.

While hospitals in Gaza have so far managed to treat all incoming injuries, the shortage of essential drugs and consumables is of major concern, particularly if hostilities escalate further. At present, there are 192 essential drug items and more than 500 consumable items out of stock.

Kerem Shalom, the only crossing for commodities, is closed until further notice. While the tunnels under the border with Egypt, which are used for the transfer fuel, have remained operational, the scope of activities has declined significantly. This has exacerbated fuel shortages throughout Gaza and forced the Gaza Power Plant to turn off one of the two operating turbines (out of four available), triggering scheduled blackouts of up to 12 hours a day.

The already fragile humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate rapidly if hostilities escalate further. In conversations, the UN Secretary-General called for the parties to exercise the utmost restraint and to respect international humanitarian law.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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