On 25 and 28 October, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) turned on the second and third turbines (of four available) and increased its electricity output from 25 to 80 megawatts (MW). Together with 120-130 MW purchased from Israel and supplied through feeder lines, a total of 200-210 MW of electricity was provided to the Gaza Strip, the highest level in almost two years. This facilitated a supply of 16-18 hours of electricity in a 24-hour period versus less than five hours previously.
The period between 11 and 13 November witnessed one of the most serious rounds of hostilities in Gaza and southern Israel since the 2014 escalation. It resulted in the killing of 15 Palestinians, including at least three civilians (one of them by Palestinian rocket fire), and one Israeli soldier; dozens of homes in Gaza and southern Israel were destroyed or damaged, displacing at least 33 Palestinian and 15 Israeli families. An informal ceasefire was reached on 13 November, with the support of Egypt and the UN, which is still holding.
Over 68 per cent of households in the Gaza Strip, or about 1.3 million people, are severely or moderately food insecure, according to the preliminary findings of the latest Socio-Economic and Food Security Survey (SefSec) carried out in 2018. 4 This is despite the fact that 69 per cent of households in Gaza reported in the survey that they receive some form of food assistance or other forms of social transfers from Palestinian governmental bodies or international organizations. The current food insecurity rate in Gaza constitutes a rise of 9 percentage points from the equivalent figure for 2014 (59 per cent), the last time the SefSec was conducted. By contrast, food insecurity in the West Bank stands at nearly 12 per cent of households according to the same survey, down from 15 per cent in 2014.
This school year (since August 2018), the Education Cluster has observed an upward trend in the number of incidents involving Israeli forces and/or settlers reported as taking place in or near Palestinian schools in the West Bank and that disrupt access to and activities at these schools. Incidents recorded include delays and harassment of children travelling to school, at checkpoints and elsewhere; clashes in the vicinity of schools; and violent raids and search operations inside schools.
During the first week of November, residents of the Gaza Strip experienced some respite from the deteriorating humanitarian situation. First, the electricity supply increased up to 18 hours a day in some areas, from 4-5 hours in previous months, following the provision of additional fuel to operate the Gaza Power Plant. Second, around 27,000 civil servants, hired by Hamas after the 2007 takeover, were paid their August salaries, while 50,000 of the poorest families began receiving an US$ 100 allocation. These developments have been made possible due to funding provided by the Government of Qatar, and following Israel’s authorization of the entry of the fuel and cash into Gaza. In addition, while the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations along the perimeter fence continue, there has been a significant decline in clashes between demonstrators and Israeli forces and a resulting decrease in casualties.
While participating in a demonstration near the Gaza fence with Israel on 6 April 2018, a university student in his mid-twenties was shot and injured in his left hip by Israeli forces. He was standing about 30-40 metres from the barbed wire fence inside Gaza territory and burning a tyre with other demonstrators.
A recent report prepared by the RAND Corporation warns that if the chronic state of emergency in Gaza’s water and sewage sector continues, an endemic disease outbreak or other public health crisis is imminent, with the risk of it spreading to Israel and Egypt. The projection is based on data collected by Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) partners and authorities over previous years, analysis of the expected impact of recent developments, and lessons learnt from disease outbreaks in Haiti, Yemen and Iraq. The report emphasised that cooperation between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt is vital if an epidemic is to be pre-empted.
The high level of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians reported during the first four months of 2018 in an earlier Humanitarian Bulletin, continued through October as the annual olive harvest began. Since the start of 2018, OCHA has documented 217 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers that have resulted in Palestinian casualties (60 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (157 incidents). As a monthly average, this is the highest level of incidents recorded since 2014 and represents a 57 and 175 per cent increase compared with 2017 and 2016 respectively (see chart).
Participants in the 27 September meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), the minister-level gathering of oPt donors, in New York, were unanimous regarding the disastrous humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Among other remarks, The World Bank warned that the Gaza economy “is in free fall registering minus 6 percent growth in the first quarter of 2018, and an unemployment rate of 53 percent (over 70 percent for youth) … Given that every second person in Gaza lived below the poverty line before these latest developments, the deterioration is alarming.”
Funding for humanitarian activities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is at an all-time low. At the end of September, only $159 million had been secured of a requested $539.7 million for the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the multi-agency strategy and funding appeal for the humanitarian community in the oPt. Funding for the oPt HRP is at only 30 per cent, significantly lower than the current global average of 42 per cent.