The situation in occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) witnessed a significant deterioration during May 2021. Tensions increased in the West Bank and East Jerusalem due to clashes inside and around Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Holy month of Ramadan, in addition to the anticipated eviction of the Palestinian families from the neighborhoods of Silwan and Shiekh Jarrah. The tensions spilled over into Gaza on 10 May. The last escalation on Gaza Strip lasted 11 days between 10 and 21 May 2021. A ceasefire brokered by Egypt came into effect on 21 May at 2:00 am. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), up to 27 May, 256 Palestinians, including 66 children and 40 women were killed, of whom 128 were believed to be civilians. Around 245, including 63 children, were seemingly killed by Israeli Defense Forces.
In addition, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) noted that almost 2,000 Palestinians were injured during the hostilities, including over 600 children and 400 women, some of whom sustained severe injury and may suffer from a long-term disability requiring rehabilitation. During the escalation, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) reached 113,000 IDPs sought shelter and protection at UNRWA schools and host communities.
The number of IDPs decreased dramatically, primarily remaining for those whose houses were destroyed or so damaged as to be uninhabitable.
Due to COVID-19 and public health measures taken to slow the transmission of the virus, schools in the Gaza Strip had been closed since 8 April and education was provided through distance learning approaches. During the escalation and after the ceasefire, all schools remained closed in Gaza, and MoE announced the end of the academic year on 3 June and latterly UNRWA on 10 June. Both MoE and UNRWA had to terminate the academic year shorter than expected due to the different challenges following the latest escalation of violence. These challenges included frequent electricity and internet cuts, damage to schools’ infrastructure and difficulty in accessing schools due to damaged streets and infrastructure. 149 public and private schools sustained damage during the escalation.
Moreover, 3 MoE directorates reported minor damages. As for UNRWA, 37 schools, Gaza Training Center (GTC) and a Rehabilitation Center for the Visually Impaired (RCVI) were also collaterally impacted. Another 63 UNRWA schools were used as Designated Emergency Shelters (DES) during the escalation to host IDPs and were partially damaged and in need of minor rehabilitation. In addition, 80 Kindergartens (KGs) were also assessed and reported damages due to the escalation.