Posted on 12 May 2020

COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 8 (5 - 11 May 2020)

Highlights

  • 15 new COVID-19 cases; no new deaths recorded.
  • Palestinian workers in Israel to be covered by health insurance, following a court petition.
  • Revised Inter-Agency Response Plan for COVID-19 crisis is 50 per cent funded. 

547 42,417 14,875 US$42 M
People with COVID-19 Samples tested for COVID-19 People in quarantine request for Inter-Agency Response Plan

Situation Overview

As of 11 May, some 547 Palestinians are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 in oPt, including 172 in East Jerusalem,[1] 355 in the remainder of the West Bank and 20 in the Gaza Strip. This is an increase of 15 compared to last week, with no new deaths recorded. In total, since the start of the epidemic, 382 cases have recovered.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), since the onset of the pandemic, 42,417 laboratory samples have been tested. Some 14,875 Palestinians are in quarantine at home, or in designated facilities for monitoring purposes. The cumulative number of Palestinian in quarantine since the onset is 62,071.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the humanitarian community continues to address the critical gaps in supplies, including testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and essential Intensive Care Unit (ICU) equipment. The State of Emergency across the oPt, originally declared on 5 March, has been extended again until early June. In both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a decline in public observance of regulations is reported, and WHO continues to encourage people to adhere to the recommended measures, including physical distancing and personal hygiene measures.

In light of the negative impact of the prolonged lockdown on the Palestinian economy, the Government of Israel has agreed to transfer NIS 800 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA), as an advance on the tax revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The money will be transferred in four monthly instalments, starting from the end of May.

On 11 May, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, along with the UNICEF Special Representative and the Head of the UN Human Rights Office, issued a joint statement expressing serious concern over the Israeli authorities’ continued detention of Palestinian children, who are placed at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. The statement called for the immediate release of all children in detention, including Palestinian children, and a moratorium on new admissions into detention facilities.

West Bank

The daily curfew from 19.00 until early the following morning imposed by the PA since the beginning of Ramadan, continues.

There are unconfirmed reports that further restrictions may be imposed, in advance of the expected return to the West Bank of the thousands of labourers currently in Israel, for the Eid al Fitr holiday on 23 May. Following a petition by three Israel human rights organizations to the Israeli High Court of Justice, the Israeli State Attorney announced on 6 May that Israeli employers must provide their Palestinian labourers with health insurance for their treatment in clinics or hospitals, if required, as well as adequate accommodation, as specified in newly issued emergency regulations.

Mobile health staff have been able to temporarily resume services to three Palestinian Bedouin communities in the ‘Seam Zone’ in the Qalqiliya governorate, which had been suspended since the beginning of April. In the Qalqiliya area also, Palestinian farmers who own land in the closed area behind the Barrier (the ‘Seam Zone’) have been permitted to regain access to this land. However, in the Jenin and Salfit governorates, access remains restricted, due to the continuing revocation of permits and the non-opening of agricultural gates.

In East Jerusalem, COVID-19 cases continue to be managed by the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN) and Israeli hospitals. Despite donor pledges, the EJHN hospitals are still in need of medical supplies and equipment to be fully prepared to receive COVID-19 patients. The access of Palestinians holding West Bank IDs to East Jerusalem hospitals remains severely restricted, with only emergency cases and cancer patients granted permits.

Citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished another Palestinian-owned, livelihood-related structure in Area C of the West Bank.   An increased incidence in settler violence during the crisis continues to be a principal concern, with ongoing attacks by Israeli settlers, vandalism against Palestinian vehicles and olive trees, and physical attacks on Palestinian farmers during the reporting period.

Gaza Strip

During the reporting period, an additional three new cases were detected in Gaza. This brings the total of COVID-19 cases to 20, of which six are active. Almost 7,100 samples have been taken in Gaza since the start of the pandemic.  The number of active quarantine centres has declined from 19 to nine since last week, with the number of people in the facilities dropping from approximately 1,800 to 461. The provision of health care continues to be disrupted by the shutting down 23 out of the 49 primary health care centres, due to the diversion of human resources to respond to COVID-19-related issues.

The Rafah Crossing with Egypt remained closed in both directions. However, the Egyptian authorities have announced that the crossing will open between 12 and 14 May in one direction, to allow for the return to Gaza of up to 1,500 Palestinians, who will be quarantined for 21 days. This will be the first opening of the crossing since mid-April, when about 1,600 people returned to Gaza.  In addition, up to 300 Palestinians currently in Jordan are expected to cross via the Allenby Bridge over the next three weeks and return to Gaza through the Erez Crossing. The movement of goods from Israel and Egypt has continued as previously, including the entry of restricted (“dual use”) items via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Inter-Agency Response Plan – Funding Status

So far, $21.2 million, 50% per cent of the amount requested in the Response Plan has been raised.  Including resources outside the Response Plan, almost $38 million have been mobilized to support COVID-19 related response activities in oPt.

A considerable part of the increase in funding for this week consists in an internal loan of $5 million obtained by WFP. The loan aims at providing the required resources to respond to the food security elements of the COVID-19 Response Plan which have not been funded so far. An additional contribution in support of food security, more than $800.000, was provided by France.

NGOs and INGOs managed to mobilize more than $900.000 to fund the requirements of the response plan.

Canada, ECHO and Ireland have further increased their contributions. The oPt Humanitarian Fund also approved some reprogramming in support of the COVID-19 response.

COVID-19 response funding in the oPt (through and outside the Inter-Agency Response Plan) in US$

Cluster Response Plan Requirements (US$) Through the Response Plan (US$) Percentage of the Plan covered Outside the Response Plan (US$) Total (US$)
Education  1,203,000 806,000 67% 1,765,000 2,571,000
Food Security 11,781,726  6,414,328 54% 1,721,500 8,135,828
Health 19,106,615  9,491,500  50%  9,563,147  19,054,647 
Protection  951,000  373,000 39%   373,000
Shelter & NFI  3,342,551  1,250,000 37%  2,698,500  3,948,500
WASH  6,055,240  2,833,579 47% 999,020 3,832,599
Total 42,440,132 21,168,965 50% 16,747,167 37,916,132

Total funding for COVID-19 response by donors

Donor Through the Response Plan Outside the Response Plan Total in US$
AECID 37,655   37,655
Austria    229,564  229,564* 
Canada 1,772,000 106,050 1,878,050
CERF 300,000   300,000
DFID 1,120,000   1,120,000
ECHO 1,638,760 6,305,000* 7,943,760
Education Cannot Wait 555,000 1,550,000 2,105,000
France 827,815   827,815
Ireland (Irish Aid) 235,200   235,200
Islamic Relief Worldwide 91,400   91,400
Italian Agency for Development Cooperation [AICS] 150,340 10,970 161,310
Italy (IADC)   35,000 35,000
Kuwait  747,500  8,252,500 9,000,000
NCA HQ, DCA  71,035   71,035
Norway 70,000 91,083 161,083
Nous Cims 54,310   54,310
OPT Humanitarian Fund 6,604,758   6,604,758
Oxfam 60,000   60,000 
PHG   7,000 7,000
Private Sector Fundraising 386,786   386,786
Qatar Red Crescent   10,000 10,000
Secours Islamique France 79,407   79,407
Start Network / Start Fund - COVID-19 100,000   100,000
Sweden (SIDA) 500,000   500,000
UNESCO    150,000  150,000
UNICEF 627,000   627,000
WFP (HQ loan) 5,000,000   5,000,000
WHO 140,000   140,000
Grand Total 21,168,965  16,747,167  37,916,132

* Attribution to the Inter-Agency COVID-19 Response Plane under verification.

Coordination

The Inter-Agency COVID-19 Task Force led by the Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator (HC/RC), as well as the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG), continue meeting on a regular basis to follow up on the implementation of the Inter-Agency Response Plan. The HC/RC also informs the Palestinian authorities about the essential movements required by humanitarian and development staff during this period of enhanced movement restrictions, while following the already adopted Standard Operation Procedures. Where necessary, coordination with the Israeli authorities is also conducted to ensure the safe movement of staff. 

As part of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) plan, nearly 40 partners are distributing communications materials aimed at ensuring that the public has access to a broad range of information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  WHO is also releasing guidance to civil and religious authorities, regarding traditional religious practices observed during Ramadan, in light of the current pandemic. 

UNICEF is also taking the lead in coordinating and centralizing the procurement of medical supplies and equipment.  Additionally, the World Food Programme (WFP) has set up a logistics working group to support humanitarian partners in providing key supply chains, reducing duplication and increasing cost efficiency. Logistics services will be provided by air and sea, through Ben-Gurion Airport and Ashdod Port.

Developments, concerns and funding status by cluster

Health

US$ 19,106,615 US$ 9,492,052 50% US$ 9,563,147 US$ 19,054,647
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Over 107,500 people have benefited from activities carried out by Health Cluster partners during the reporting period. Nearly 40,000 people were reached with messages related to COVID-19. Since the start of the crisis, partners delivered over 75,000 full personal protective equipment (PPE) across the oPt (including over 20 per cent in the Gaza Strip), some 7,000 test kits and a PCR machine for the Gaza Strip. 
  • Loneliness, depression, drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour in the context of the pandemic, remains of concern. Limited funding is hindering the ability to upscale mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) activities. In one week, the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme reached 5,000 people in need, while other key providers, such as UNRWA and Sawa, have increased their efforts to respond to MHPPS needs.
  • The Health Cluster calls on all relevant stakeholders to resume and/or continue the delivery of essential health services. Of particular importance are primary healthcare services, including through the operation of mobile health clinics; sexual, reproductive and maternal health services; critical inpatient services, including dialysis; trauma services for injured people; services for people with disabilities; provision of medicines and supplies for the management of ongoing chronic conditions; and time-sensitive surgeries. Supporting key providers, including UNRWA and national NGOs, is essential for this purpose.  
  • Staff with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) were temporarily granted permits to access three Bedouin communities located in the closed area behind the West Bank Barrier (the ‘Seam Zone’). These communities, home to approximately 500 people, have had no access to basic primary healthcare services since the beginning of April, as the PMRS was denied access to operate its mobile clinic in the area.
  • Despite donor pledges, the East Jerusalem Hospital Network is still in need of medical supplies and equipment to be fully prepared to receive COVID-19 patients. East Jerusalem is also in need of increased risk communication and community engagement, particularly for communities located behind the Barrier (Kafr ‘Aqab and Shu’fat Refugee Camp), the Old City, and Silwan neighbourhood.

Protection

US$ 951,000  US$ 373,000 39%   US$ 373,000
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • The number of reported cases of gender-based violence (GBV) has decreased since the start of the month of Ramadan, compared with previous weeks. This can be attributed to the easing of the movement restrictions, which had reduced the levels of stress faced by vulnerable families. However, the declining figures may be also affected by under-reporting during Ramadan. Concern over women who avoid reporting domestic violence due to fear of stigmatization, remains. 
  • GBV partners are in need of capacity building training to enhance the delivery of quality remote services, such as hotlines, phone counselling and online applications. 
  • Women’s shelters in the West Bank run by NGOs continue operating at limited capacity and report difficulties in accepting new cases. The shelters face difficulties to carry out pre-examinations and to provide accommodation for women requiring quarantine for 14 days.
  • Partners reported seven cases of adolescents threatening suicide in the context of COVID-19 domestic tensions and violence. All cases were provided with emergency counselling and were referred for urgent case management support.

Education

US$ 1,203,000 US$ 806,000 67% US$ 1,765,000 US$ 2,571,000
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • Education Cluster partners are working with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to ensure the protection of students who will be taking the twelfth grade exams, the Tawjihi. Starting on 30 May, approximately 78,000 students across the oPt will sit for the exams; 44,500 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 33,500 in the Gaza Strip. UNICEF will procure hygiene and cleaning kits to be used in all exam testing centres, and will support the printing and dissemination of Infection and Protection Control materials.
  • Education Cluster partners continue to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to students, parents and teachers. The MHPSS taskforce, supporting the MoE during the COVID-19 crisis, continues to provide remote services, while building the capacity of the MoE counsellors. Specific attention was given to children in quarantine centres in the Gaza Strip, who received counselling sessions, psychosocial support kits and stationery.
  • The Education Cluster, together with the MoE and its donors, is developing a framework for the reopening of schools. The framework will build on the UNICEF, UNESCO and World Bank guidelines for reopening of schools. The framework will aim at identifying children at risk of dropping out; convince parents to prioritize their return to education; prepare teachers to help them catch up on their learning; and adjust the education system to cope with the new environment.

Shelter

US$ 3,342,551 US$ 1,250,007 37% US$ 2,698,500 US$ 3,948,507
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • The number of the people in quarantine facilities in the Gaza Strip is expected to increase following the re-opening of the Rafah Crossing this week. As of 11 May, there were 461 people, in addition to 200 staff, in nine quarantine facilities in the Gaza Strip. Rafah Crossing is scheduled to open on 12 May for three days, during which up to 1,500 people are expected to return to the Gaza Strip, according to the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD). These people will be sent to quarantine facilities and will require non-food items (NFIs) and cleaning materials.  
  • Palestinian staff at the pre-screening facilities established next to the checkpoints controlling movement between the West Bank and Israel lack PPE, cleaning materials and thermometers. Many of the facilities are managed by the staff from nearby municipalities. The items lacking are needed to conduct a safe initial testing and registration of workers employed in Israel. 
  • People in home quarantine, including Palestinian workers that have returned from Israel, are in need of NFIs, cleaning materials and information about appropriate behavior during the quarantine period. 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

US$ 6,055,240 US$ 2,833,579 47% US$ 999,020 US$ 3,832,599
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • More than half of East Jerusalem neighbourhoods lack the capacity to implement cleaning and sanitization campaigns in public facilities, according to an NGO assessment. 
  • Bedouin and herding communities in the Jerusalem governorate report shortages of hand sanitizers, masks and gloves. 
  • Quarantine centers in the West Bank face WASH shortages. While waiting PA/ Ministry of Health (MOH) guidance, ICCG assess resource availability against possible requirements.
  • Water and sanitation utilities face challenges in maintaining services due to the decrease in fees’ collection. The needs of these institutions are being assessed by WASH partners and the Palestinian Water Authority.
  • WASH Cluster partners have reached some 52,700 people since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Interventions included the delivery of:  approximately 8,500 bottles of water to quarantine centers in the Gaza Strip; 7,000 hygiene kits in the Gaza Strip; awareness raising materials for vulnerable families in East Jerusalem areas behind the Barrier; sanitization and cleaning material for Gaza Municipality and for five community shelters in the West Bank; and desludging of 22 cesspits and septic tanks in the Gaza Strip.

Food Security

US$ 11,781,726 US$ 6,414,328 54% US$ 1,721,500 US$ 8,135,828
Funding requirements Through the Response Plan of the RP covered Outside Response plan Total Funding Received
  • The sharp increase in settler violence is undermining already fragile farming livelihoods in various West Bank areas. Attacks have increased since the emergency was declared, despite movement restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing. The attacks have included physical assault, torching of Palestinian vehicles, theft of livestock and vandalizing of fruit trees.
  • Cherry farmers in the West Bank are suffering from a halt in exports. Farmers produce about 1,000 tons of cherries per year, of which about 150-200 tons are exported to Israel and the rest to Jordan. The price of cherries has dropped to NIS 6-7 per kilo compared to NIS 18-20 last year, with losses expected to be more than NIS 2 million. 
  • There is a decreased demand of retail food items. The volume of food retail sales has declined since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There is an increase in customers asking to buy food on credit. 
  • Poultry farmers are in need of support. Broiler breeders affected by the fodder crisis in the Gaza Strip require additional support. Over 1,000 breeders across the Gaza governorates received two tons of fodder, as part of the assistance provided by the de facto authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Support to other sectors is expected to start in the coming weeks.

For more information including a detailed list of activities by cluster in both Gaza and the West Bank and for detailed maps of the Quarantine Centres please visit the COVID 19 Webpage found on the OCHA Website.  Please go to the OCHA Website:

OCHA COVID-19 dedicated webpage 

Detailed maps of quarantine facilities 

Detailed list of activities by cluster


[1] The situation in East Jerusalem regarding COVID‐19 is being managed by the Israeli authorities.