ACAPS Briefing Note: Humanitarian Impact of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza Strip, oPt (24 July 2014)

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Crisis Overview

  • Operation Protective Edge, launched by Israel against Hamas on 8 July, is now in its third week. In addition to maritime and air strikes, a ground incursion was launched on 18 July and is now in its seventh day (OCHA, 23/07/2014).

  • The hostilities were triggered by the abduction and murder of three Israeli yeshiva students, for which Israel holds Hamas responsible, and the revenge torture and murder of a Palestinian teenager by vigilante Israelis (PMO 08/07/2014; Haaretz 14/07/2014; ICG 14/07/2014).

  • As of 24 July, over 697 have been killed; 4,120 have been injured; and over 140,000 people have been displaced. 74% of casualties are civilians, including 170 children; 108 casualties are members of armed groups; and 71 people are of unknown status (Protection Cluster quoted by OCHA, 24/07/2014; UNRWA, 24/07/2014).

  • International media reported that following the shelling of a UN shelter in Beit Hanoun on 24 July, the death toll is now approaching 750 (Reuters, 24/07/2014). There is at yet no confirmation from humanitarian actors on the ground.

  • 29 Israeli soldiers have died in military operations (one is missing in action and presumed dead). Two Israeli civilians and a foreign migrant worker have been killed, and up to 30 civilians injured or treated for shock following rocket fire into Israeli territory (Protection Cluster quoted by OCHA, 24/07/2014; MoH, 24/07/2014; Human Rights Council 21st Special Session, 23/07/2014).

  • Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have continued indiscriminate attacks, firing more than 2,900 rockets, as well as mortars, into Israeli territory (Human Rights Council 21st Special Session, 23/07/2014).

  • Humanitarian ceasefires took place on 17 July – a five-hour humanitarian window – and on 20 July – a two-hour ceasefire brokered by the ICRC in Ash Shuja’iyeh (AFP, 20/07/2014).

  • After calling on 12 July for de-escalation and reinstitution of the previous ceasefire agreement, on 20 July the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Gaza, emphasizing the need to improve the humanitarian situation through humanitarian pauses (UN, 20/07/2014).

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has initiated intensified diplomatic efforts, including talks with Abbas and Netanyahu.

  • In a visit to Egypt, John Kerry stated the Egyptian proposal should form the basis of a ceasefire (BBC, 22/07/2014). On 23 July, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal rejected the proposed ceasefire unless the conditions set out by Hamas, including a lifting of the Gaza blockade, are negotiated (Al Jazeera, 24/07/2014).

  • On 23 July, the UN Human Rights Council decided to form an international commission of inquiry for alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza (OHCHR, 23/07/2014). UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated there is a strong possibility that Israel is violating international humanitarian law and its principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution, and is possibly committing war crimes (Human Rights Council 21st Special Session, 23/07/2014; OCHA, 23/07/2014).

  • Despite a decrease since the start of the ground offensive, indiscriminate firing into Israel by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza continues, with most projectiles falling in open areas or being intercepted by the Iron Dome system. Military assets are located in, and attacks are launched from, densely populated areas, leading to accusations that Hamas is using civilians as ‘human shields’. In addition, stashes of rockets have been found in two vacant schools. UNRWA demanded full respect for the sanctity and neutrality of its premises in Gaza, and is taking all possible measures for the removal of the rockets in order to preserve the safety and security of the schools, now being used to shelter IDPs (OCHA, 23/07/2014; BBC, 20/07/2014;
    UNRWA, 22/07/2014).