oPt

Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): Response to the escalation in the oPt - Situation Report No. 7 : 2-7 July 2021

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Highlights

  • On 7 July, the Israeli authorities demolished 27 residential, animal structures and water tanks in Humsa - Al Bqai’a in the Jordan Valley. Eleven households, comprising about 70 people, including 35 children, were again displaced.

  • In Gaza, about 8,220 internally displaced people (IDPs) remain with host families or in rented accommodation. Israeli forces in the West Bank killed one Palestinian, who they say had thrown an explosive device; and injured at least 400 others.

  • The humanitarian community has raised US$45 million of the $95 million requested in the emergency response plan to support 1.1 million Palestinians for three months.

Situation overview

Gaza Strip

While the ceasefire has largely held during the reporting period, tension remains high with sporadic incidents recorded of Palestinians in Gaza releasing incendiary balloons into Israel and the Israeli air force striking targets in Gaza.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), during the escalation in Gaza in May, 260 Palestinians, were killed, including 66 children. It has been assessed that 129 of the fatalities were civilians and 64 were members of armed groups, while the status of the remaining 67 has not been determined. Over 2,200 Palestinians were injured during the hostilities, including 685 children and 480 women, some of whom may suffer a long-term disability requiring rehabilitation.

At the height of the escalation, 113,000 IDPs sought shelter and protection at UNRWA schools or with hosting families. According to the Ministry of Social Development, there are still about 8,220 IDPs living with host families or at rented accommodation primarily those whose houses were destroyed or so severely damaged as to be uninhabitable.

A Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA) carried out between 25 May and 25 June revealed that the Gaza escalation resulted in up to US$380 million in physical damage and an additional $190 million in economic losses. The RDNA was conducted in partnership between the World Bank Group, the UN, and the European Union, in close cooperation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and in consultation with civil society and private sector in Gaza.

The local authorities have finalized a damage assessment of household affected in the escalation, according to which, 1,255 houses were destroyed, 918 housing units sustained severe damage and are deemed uninhabitable and 50,000 households sustained minor damage. In addition, 188 government, UNRWA and private schools, 80 kindergartens and 33 health facilities sustained damage.

The WASH Cluster reports that during the escalation 290 water, sanitation and hygiene facilities were damaged or destroyed, including water wells, water pumping stations, and distribution networks. Wastewater and storm-water infrastructure sites were also affected. A water desalination plant in the northern Gaza Strip ceased operation on 4 July due to the lack of antiscalant materials required for the desalination process affecting access to drinking water for 200,000 people. The plant resumed functioning on 7 July after the required materials were secured.

Despite the reconnection of most electricity lines and the resumption of Qatari-fund fuel designated for the Gaza Power Plant into Gaza, electricity is now available for 12 hours per day across Gaza, compared with 13 hours last week. The decline in supply is attributable to increase in demand due to the summer heat.

As of 23 June, the Israeli authorities eased some movement restrictions to allow for the departure of patients with Israeli-issued permits for life-saving treatment unavailable in Gaza, as well as the exit of Palestinians to visit terminally ill relatives, or those who need longer-term treatment. However, the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza remain prohibited from exiting, as has been the case at least since the imposition of the blockade 14 years ago.

The Israeli authorities have kept the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing open for the entry of basic commodities, but construction materials and items they consider to have potential dual civilian/military use remain largely prohibited. New permit arrangements for certain agricultural inputs into Gaza reportedly require that some items need to be approved each time before entry.

As of 21 June, the Israeli authorities have allowed a limited number of agricultural commodities and textiles to be exported abroad or transferred to the West Bank through Kerem Shalom for the first time since the escalation.

Aid, including food and medicine from Egypt and other countries, continue to enter through the Rafah crossing on most days. The Egyptian authorities have also kept the crossing open for the entry and exit of authorized travellers, including Palestinians injured in the recent escalation who are receiving medical treatment in Egypt. They are also allowing commercial supplies such as food, fuel and construction materials to enter Gaza through the Salah Ad Din gate.

West Bank, including East Jerusalem

On 7 July, for the first time since 22 February, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA), accompanied by the military, returned to the Palestinian herding community of Humsa - Al Bqai’a. The ICA demolished 27 residential, animal structures and water tanks, leaving the community with no drinking water or water for their livestock, preliminary information indicates. Eleven households, comprising about 70 people, including 35 children, were again displaced and are at heightened risk of forcible transfer. Most of the structures demolished or confiscated had been provided as a humanitarian response following similar mass demolition incidents on 3, 8 and 22 February, in which 55 structures were demolished or confiscated.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and injured at least 400 Palestinians during clashes that erupted during ongoing protests against Israeli settlement expansion, as well as during incidents involving Israeli settlers in Beita, Osarin, Qusra and Nablus city.

On 3 July, a 21-year-old Palestinian man was killed and 24 others were injured in Qusra village, Nablus, as Israeli settlers entered the community, accompanied by soldiers. The man was shot in the chest with live ammunition and beaten by Israeli settlers. According to Israeli media, Israeli forces claim they shot the man who had thrown an explosive device. Human rights organizations are currently investigating the incident.

On 2 July, following an agreement reached between the Israeli government and Israeli settlers of the newly established Evyatar settlement, the settlers vacated the homes which they had erected on Palestinian-owned land near Beita, Nablus. According to the agreement, Israeli forces will be stationed to guard the buildings erected by the settlers, while the Israeli authorities decide if the land can be classified as ‘state land’ and a Jewish religious seminary can be established on the site. Palestinians have continued to protest Israeli policies in the area and Israeli forces have continued to use force against them, with a total of 367 Palestinians injured during such protests during the reporting period. In total, five Palestinians, including two children, have been killed and over 2,300 injured during protests and clashes since the settlement was established in early May 2021. Attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property have continued elsewhere in the West Bank, resulting in some injuries. About 1,000 trees were burnt in Bethlehem government by people believed to be Israeli settlers.

Palestinians across the West Bank continued to protest the killing of a prominent Palestinian critic of the Palestinian government, who died shortly after being arrested by Palestinian forces on 24 June. Initial autopsy results ruled the death “unnatural” and describe serious injuries, consistent with what eyewitnesses described as the violent arrest of the activist. During the reporting period, Palestinian forces arrested seven Palestinians, including one journalist, during these protests. On 5 July, the families of those arrested as well as journalists and lawyers gathered at Al Bireh police station to demand their release and were attacked with pepper spray and physically assaulted with police batons. As a result, 23 protesters were injured and arrested and two were transferred to hospital for treatment.

Sheikh Jarrah

Palestinian families still face the threat of forced eviction by the Israeli authorities from their homes in the Karm Al Jaouni area of Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, due to court cases initiated by Israeli settler organizations. The High Court of Justice is set to hold a hearing on 2 August regarding the forced eviction of four of the families.

Since 3 May, Israeli forces have been stationed at all five entrances to Karm Al Jaouni, allowing entry only to Palestinian neighbourhood residents, who are ordered to present identifying documents, as well as to Israeli settlers, journalists, ambulances and UN vehicles. On 5 July, Israeli authorities moved the checkpoint further into the neighbourhood, intensifying the access restrictions imposed on the residents while facilitating the movement of Israeli settlers at the checkpoint.

On 2 July, Israeli settlers, under Israeli police escort, moved into a residential apartment in the Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, while also taking over land nearby. The property and land are believed to have been sold by the Palestinian owners to the settler organization Elad.

Funding

As reported previously, on 27 May, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, Lynn Hastings, launched the inter-agency Flash Appeal, requesting $95 million to support emergency humanitarian and early recovery responses over a three-month period. The response plan envisages a swift transition to an early recovery phase, including the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure services and networks, and then to a medium- and long-term reconstruction and recovery framework. The plan complements the $417 million appealed for in the 2021 oPt Humanitarian Response Plan, covering pre-existing humanitarian needs.

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