Escalation in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel - Situation Report No. 1: 13 April - 20 May, 2021

Situation Report
Originally published


"We just want to feel safe. Where can we go? The shelters are crowded. How do I keep my son safe? I am not strong enough for this."
— MAY, a Palestinian woman from Gaza


The situation in Gaza and the West Bank remains dire. As hostilities continue, civilian casualties continue to mount, particularly as air strikes target more densely populated communities. Given the already compromised protection and healthcare infrastructures in Gaza, health systems are on the verge of collapse — a reality further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As in other humanitarian crises, women and girls continue to bear the brunt of these hostilities, placing their lives, dignity, and well-being at risk. There are currently around 87,000 pregnant women in Gaza and vulnerable areas of the West Bank. An estimated 29,000 women will give birth over the next 3 months in these areas. For both pregnant and lactating women, lack of access to quality healthcare services will further jeopardize their lives and those of their unborn children. Meanwhile, the risks of gender-based violence, including harmful coping mechanisms such as child marriage, inevitably increase during crises, further endangering the lives and well-being of women and girls.



  • Since the escalation of the hostilities between Gaza and Israel on 10 May the conflict shows no signs of abating. According to health authorities in Gaza, as of 20 May (12:00PM), at least 219 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 63 children and 35 women, and at least 1,570 people have been wounded over the past 10 days.

  • Hostilities have resulted in at least 75,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), including 47,000 sheltering in 58 UNRWA schools across Gaza while 28,700 are sheltering with families in the host community.

  • UNFPA partners in Gaza are unable to operate in the current environment and a direct assessment of damage and needs remains challenging. After days of closure, only around 40 percent of MOH primary health clinics and 16 of UNRWA’s 22 primary health clinics re-opened on 16 May. However, not all provide sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.

  • The health system in Gaza, already overwhelmed by many years of blockade of Gaza, and by the long-standing COVID-19 pandemic, is significantly overstretched.

  • Power supply across Gaza remains at only 6-8 hours per day due to damage sustained to electrical infrastructure, disrupting the provision of healthcare and other basic services, including water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH).


  • In the West Bank, as of 20 May, 25 Palestinians have been killed, including four children and 6,309 injured.

  • In East Jerusalem, at least one Palestinian has been killed and 1,011 injured.

  • There have been new reports of physical attacks, harassment, and restrictions on the movements of healthcare workers, paramedics, and ambulances. Across the West Bank, PRCS treated tear gas and rubber bullet injuries on the ground and transferred more than 400 critical cases to hospital as a result of use of live ammunition by Israeli Security Forces.


  • WHO reports at least 91 attacks against health care facilities in the occupied Palestinian territory between 13 April and 17 May of which 70 occurred in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and 21 in the Gaza Strip, resulting in injuries, damaged vehicles, and the destruction of health clinics.

  • Israeli air strikes have caused damage to at least 17 health facilities in Gaza:

    • Hala Al-Shawa primary health care clinic was destroyed;
    • Four MoH and two NGO hospitals, two clinics, a health centre and one Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) facility have sustained damage;
    • On May 14, Dar Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest maternity hospital and supported by UNFPA, sustained damage as adjacent buildings were bombed. Additional health centres have been damaged since then with more information not available as of May 20 noon.
  • In the West Bank, at least 41 health care workers have been injured, and 21 medical service vehicles damaged or confiscated.