oPt

Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): Flash Update #3 - Escalation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel (as of 12:00, 13 May 2021)

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  • The casualty toll continues to rise as a result of the most serious escalation between armed groups in Gaza and Israeli forces since the 2014 hostilities. Israeli military sources have indicated that the operation will continue for as long as necessary and there are reports of Israeli forces preparing for a possible ground operation.

  • Overnight and this morning, in Gaza armed groups continued to launch barrages of rockets and mortar shells into Israe, while Israeli forces carried out extensive airstrikes and shelling across the Strip. As of 12:00 hrs today, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 83 Palestinians have been killed since 10 May in Gaza and 487 have been injured. Extensive damage is reported to residential and commercial buildings, schools and infrastructure such as roads, electricity network and water installations and agricultural lands. In Israel, seven people have been killed so far including two children and 281 injured.

  • Clashes also continued in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, between Palestinians and Israeli forces. Widespread civil disturbances have also been continuing within Israel.forces. Widespread civil disturbances have also been continuing within Israel.

  • In his briefing to the Security Council on 12 May, the UN Special Coordinator, Tor Wennesland, stated “there is a need to take decisive actions to de-escalate the situation and prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war, which would have devastating consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis and could have far-reaching regional implications. … We must avert yet another humanitarian … in Gaza.”

Situation overview

According to the health authorities in Gaza, up to 17:00 on 13 May, 83 Palestinians have been killed, including 17 children and seven women, and 487 people have been wounded since the start of the escalation on 10 May. According to Israeli officials, Israeli forces have targeted senior members of Palestinian armed groups, with some of the fatalities confirmed by the groups themselves.

According to the Government Media Office in Gaza, extensive damage is reported to civilian properties located in densely populated areas all over Gaza, with over 500 housing units destroyed or severely damaged, and minor damage to at least 2,100 housing units. The Government Information Office in Gaza also reported that 14 residential towers and houses have been destroyed, and that 23 schools and some primary health-care clinics were severely or partially damaged by heavy shelling. The Israeli authorities say that they have targeted over 650 sites reportedly related to the armed groups, including tunnels, weapons depots, as well as police, security and Interior Ministry and banking facilities.

The North Gaza Seawater Desalination Plant is still not operational for the third successive day and affecting about 250,000 people. 150,000 people from Gaza City have limited access to piped water due to increasing power cuts. Due to the lack of fuel, Gaza’s sole power plant continues to run on only two of its four turbines, resulting in rolling daily power cuts of 8-12 hours.

The current insecurity significantly restricts the delivery of essential services, including the ongoing COVID-19 response, with the number of tests conducted drastically reduced and people unable to access treatment and vaccination facilities safely.

The Israeli authorities have closed the Erez crossing since 10 May, including for humanitarian and aid workers, and the Kerem Shalom goods crossing. All fishing activity remains prohibited off the Gaza coast. The Rafah crossing and Salah Ad Din gate with Egypt are closed due to the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.

According to the Israeli authorities, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have fired over 1,500 rockets and mortar shells into Israel since 10 May, with a significant number landing short inside Gaza, suggesting that some of the casualties and damage in Gaza may have resulted from Palestinian fire. In Israel, Palestinian rocket fire killed six civilians, including three women, a girl and a boy; hundreds have been injured. An Israeli soldier was killed on 12 May near the Gaza perimeter fence by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces have also continued across the West Bank. In East Jerusalem, clashes took place in the Mount of Olives, Al Issawiya, Jabal al Mukkabir and the Damascus Gate area of the Old City, among other areas. Palestinians also continue to protest in Sheikh Jarrah in solidarity with the families facing eviction, with Israeli forces using tear gas, stun grenades and ‘skunk’ water against Palestinians.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces were reported in the Hebron Bethlehem, Qalqiliya and Nablus governorates in the evening of 12 May. Attacks and stone-throwing by Israeli settlers also continue across the different locations of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. One Palestinian was killed and another was shot and injured when trying to attack Israeli soldiers, with two soldiers injured in one attack. In total, since 10 May, three Palestinians have been killed and 1,682 injured in the West Bank.

Civil disturbances have also continued within Israel, resulting in one fatality, multiple injuries and extensive property damage. The authorities have deployed the Border Police to contain the inter-communal violence and a night curfew was imposed on the flashpoint mixed city of Lod, overnight. Some 374 people were reported arrested following widespread violence on 12 May.

Israeli airstrikes and shelling have hit houses and apartment buildings. In some of these properties, residents report receiving prior warning to evacuate from callers identifying themselves as members of Israeli security forces. The Hanadi Building in Gaza city, a 14-storey structure containing residential and office units, was destroyed, and three other multi-storey buildings in the city were hit and severely damaged. Over 350 housing units have been destroyed or damaged, and hundreds of others have sustained moderate damages. Numerous families have been displaced, with an estimated 1,750 people affected.

Seven factories, eight schools and a health centre have also been damaged by Israeli airstrikes and shortfalls of Hamas launched rockets. In addition, scores of military sites, police and security facilities, as well as open areas, have been hit, with the police headquarters in Gaza city destroyed. Generally, the population is fearful and many in a state of panic and hostilities continue at high intensity. Street, markets and shops remain closed and traffic is limited to emergency teams.

The Israeli authorities have kept the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings closed and still forbid any fishing off Gaza’s coast. The Rafah crossing and Salah Ad Din gate with Egypt are closed due to the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.

According to the Israeli authorities, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have fired over 1,200 rockets and mortar shells into Israel since the current round of hostilities began on 10 May, with a significant number landing short inside Gaza, suggesting that some of the casualties and damage in Gaza may have resulted from Palestinian fire. In Israel, Palestinian rocket fire killed five civilians, including three women and a girl; hundreds have been injured. An anti-tank missile that Palestinians fired from Gaza over the Israeli perimeter fence on 12 May killed an Israeli soldier and injured two others.

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, protests have continued in multiple locations, resulting in three fatalities and 624 injuries. During the night of 11 May, disturbances were again reported in Al Aqsa, the Damascus Gate area, Sheikh Jarrah and other parts of East Jerusalem, resulting in 122 injuries.

Civil disturbances within Israel have resulted in one fatality, multiple injuries and property damage, especially in ‘mixed cities.’

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.