The Humanitarian Monitor occupied Palestinian territory No. 13, May 2007
Overview- Key Issues
Resurgence of Factional Violence in Gaza
This month saw the fourth episode of Palestinian interfactional fighting in the Gaza Strip in 2007. The number of Palestinians killed as a result of internal conflict in the Gaza Strip in May (63) is six times more than the 2006 monthly average for the Gaza Strip (11) and four times more than the April average (16). In every month since December 2006, internal violence related deaths have exceeded direct conflict related deaths.
Palestinian-Israeli violence also escalated in May. Direct conflict related deaths among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in May (54), were five times as many as in April (10) and are the highest since November 2006. The majority of direct conflict deaths occurred as a result of Israeli Air Force (IAF) strikes on Hamas-affiliated Executive Support Forces (ESF) bases and vehicles carrying Hamas or Islamic Jihad members in the Gaza Strip. The IAF carried out 65 air strikes on Palestinian targets this month, up from three in April.
Additionally in May, Palestinian militants fired 323 Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip towards targets in Israel (compared to 60 in April), resulting in the deaths of two Israelis. A total of 30 injuries were reported among Israelis of whom seven are affiliated with the Israeli security forces.
Following an ambush of Palestinian National Security Forces by the Hamas-affiliated ESF on 15 May, the Israeli authorities reduced operating hours for Karni crossing, the main crossing point for commercial goods and humanitarian supplies, from 13.5 hours per day to nine. Also on 15 May, Rafah crossing, which was otherwise closed, was opened with the consent of the Israelis to allow the exclusive crossing of PA National Security Forces loyal to Fatah to return from training in Egypt.
Factional fighting forced several schools and health care facilities in the Gaza Strip to close; all 46 UNRWA schools in Gaza governorate were disrupted for three days. Israeli air attacks also resulted in damage to a number of UNRWA installations, including a girl's school in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.
Factional fighting in the Gaza Strip had a severe impact on the humanitarian situation and the provision of humanitarian aid. There has been a virtual collapse of law and order in the Gaza Strip as a result of the significant increase in internal violence during the first five months of 2007. In a May 2007 survey, 80% of Gaza residents polled stated that they feel insecure; 43.7% expressed that their first reason to feel insecure is due to internal fighting, 23.1% said it is due to no signs of socio-economic improvement and 14.8% said because of Israeli raids(12). In particular, factional fighting has severely disrupted the daily lives of Gazan residents, who are often afraid to leave their homes. The inability of people to leave their homes has an impact on both the public sector and commercial life of Gaza.
Health Sector Strike Ends
Following 104 days of a strike by workers in the PA health sector, the striking unions ended their strike on 29 May. This decision was made after the Palestinian Ministry of Finance (MoF) committed to an agreement signed with the health professional unions on 8 May. In accordance with the agreement, the MoF began the procedure of paying 35 % of the hazard pay allowances and committed itself to paying what is left of the allowances according to a scheduled in the agreement. Payment of salaries to 840 contract employees who have not been paid for the past 10 months is still outstanding. These employees are threatening to go on strike in June unless the issue is satisfactorily resolved.