On 14 November at approximately 1545 hrs, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched an airstrike that targeted and killed the acting chief of Hamas’ armed wing and one of his associates. This incident marked the opening of a large military offensive, which is ongoing. This latest offensive followed several weeks of intermittent escalations in violence between Palestinian armed groups and the Israeli military.

There are serious concerns regarding the impact of this latest round of violence on the civilian populations in Gaza and in southern Israel. IAF airstrikes and firing from Israeli naval vessels and tanks have resulted in rising civilian fatalities and injuries and damage to hundreds of homes across the Gaza Strip. Reports indicate civilians are moving from their homes located in the border areas and near potential targets of Israeli airstrikes to areas they consider may be more secure. Rockets and missiles fired by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza into southern Israel have also resulted in civilian deaths and injuries and damage to homes and other civilian buildings.

The uninterrupted waves of airstrikes and indiscriminate rocket fire have also triggered widespread fear among the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, particularly among children, with dozens having to be treated for shock.

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip remains precarious – pre-existing shortages of drugs and medical supplies may be compounded by any increased demand on health services relating to the increase in violence and currently, the only entry point for commodities, including humanitarian supplies, is closed.

The already fragile humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate rapidly if hostilities escalate further. The UN Secretary-General has called upon all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian populations.

Latest statistics
• As at 19 November, an estimated 57 Palestinian civilians, including 18 children, have been killed. Over 740 Palestinians are reportedly injured, the majority civilians, including an estimated 252 children and 139 women.

• As at 19 November, an estimated 83 homes in Gaza have been destroyed or seriously damaged. Hundreds more have sustained minor damage.

• As at 19 November, three Israeli civilians have been killed and 127 have been injured.

For background information on the general humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip please click here.

Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 17 - 23 March 2015
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Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 10 - 16 March 2015
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Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 3 - 9 March 2015
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Gaza Operational Atlas November 2012
Visual: Escalation in hostilities, Gaza and southern Israel | 21 Nov 2012
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Statements / Press Releases
Press Release: Occupation practices and continued conflict drive humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territory, a UN OCHA Annual Overview concludes
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Humanitarian Coordinator calls for children’s safe access to school in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem
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Joint Statement by 30 International Aid Agencies: “We must not fail in Gaza.”
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Link to UNRWA

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