Palestine – Violence in Gaza and Increased Humanitarian Needs (DG ECHO, UN, Media) (ECHO Daily Flash of 23 July 2018)
Four Palestinians were killed and some 210 wounded on 20 July during heavy air strikes. Strikes began after an Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper near the southern Gaza Strip. The soldier was the first to be shot dead by Palestinians since 2014, according to the Israel Defense Forces. A fragile ceasefire was reached later in the night.
In a statement issued on 21 July, the UN Secretary General Guterres called on Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza to cease the launching of rockets and incendiary kites along the enclave’s perimeter fence. He also said Israel must exercise restraint to avoid further inflaming the situation.
Since 16 July, the Israeli authorities have prohibited until further notice the entry of fuel and gas into the Gaza Strip, in the context of tightened import and export restrictions. The Kerem Shalom crossing is open for the import of medicines and food only. According to media, Israel will reopen the crossing on 24 July if calm is maintained.
UN officials warned that the Gaza Strip is facing serious fuel shortages affecting hospitals as well as water and sanitation facilities, and called for restrictions to be lifted. According to WHO, Al Quds Hospital, one of the major referral hospitals in Gaza, will be forced to shut down in coming days due to lack of fuel. Another four hospitals are likely to run out within the next three days.
According to UN OCHA, over 2 000 patients in Gaza’s hospitals are at high risk, especially those relying on electrical devices, including newborns in incubators. Over 1.27 million people will be directly affected by the closure of the hospitals and reduction in provision of vital health interventions.
Additionally, the reduced functioning of water and sanitation facilities risks an increase of waterborne disease and outbreaks. At present, water and sanitation facilities are rationing available fuel supplies, which will be exhausted by the end of July if fuel imports do not resume. Funding for emergency fuel will run out for all critical facilities in early August.