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OPT: The Gaza Strip Situation Report 17 May 2007

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Following the Palestinian ceasefire that took affect at 8pm on 16 May, internal violence has calmed. However, there has been an escalation in Palestinian-Israeli violence.

Update on Internal Palestinian Violence

There are some signs of improvement regarding civilian movement and the delivery of services throughout the Gaza Strip. The situation in Gaza City, however, remains more volatile.

Sporadic clashes have continued between Fatah forces and Hamas and its affiliated Executive Support Force (ESF) with at least two further deaths and 10 injuries. Since fighting erupted on 13 May at least 39 Palestinians have been killed in factional violence and a further 124 injured.

- Militia checkpoints and road blocks have now been cleared from most parts of the Gaza Strip including the two principal north-south axis roads, Salah ed Din Street and the Coastal road. Traffic is now returning to the streets of the Gaza Strip.

- Militants are still visible in Gaza City but have now moved to side streets and are only seen in small groups monitoring traffic movement from a distance.

- Militants are still reported to be located on the roofs and upper floors of high-rise buildings particularly in the area around the Islamic University in Gaza City. It is believed they are holding these positions to ensure they have vantage points if the cease fire collapses.

- Shops and markets are now reopening in Gaza City neighbourhoods of Sheikh Radwan, Shuja'ieh and Zeitoun, allowing families to replenish food stocks.

- Garbage continues to accumulate on the streets throughout Gaza City

- Parts of the western Rimal area of Gaza city still remain closed. This was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the last two days due to the presence of a number of Fatah security bases in the area.

- UNRWA facilities are operating on a normal basis throughout the Gaza Strip with the exception of Gaza City where staff are still being requested to stay at home. While schools remain closed in Gaza City, the main UNRWA health clinic in Rimal, Gaza City is open today.

- Two UNRWA schools hosting 3,000 pupils in Rafah, came under fire earlier this afternoon as a result of ongoing armed clashes between Hamas and Fatah gunmen in the area. The children were forced to congregate on the first floor of the school for their own safety pending evacuation.

Crossings

Karni crossing has now been closed for the third successive day at the request of the Palestinians. There are no signs of shortages in any essential food supplies.

Rafah crossing has not been open since 14 May, except for a few hours on 15 May to allow the entry of approximately 450 Fatah security officials returning from training in Egypt. No other passengers were permitted to cross in either direction.

Erez crossing has remained open throughout the period of the factional fighting allowing the movement into Israel of traders, medical referrals and Palestinians working for international organizations.

The Erez DCL has facilitated the passage of medicines and consumables through the Erez crossing for WHO, ICRC and MAP-UK. Included among the consumables are, blood bags that have been in short supply at Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

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