The Monthly Humanitarian Bulletin | June - August 2014

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In early September, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) launched its Gaza Crisis Appeal outlining the joint strategy of the humanitarian community, including UNRWA, to respond to the current crisis in the Gaza Strip. The appeal requests $551 million to carry out 108 projects, implemented by 54 partners, including 13 UN agencies.

The hostilities that took place between 7 July and 26 August 2014 can be broken down into three phases: a period of air, land and naval strikes between 7 and 17 July; a ground operation by Israeli forces entering the Gaza Strip from 18 July to 5 August, accompanied by continuing airstrikes; and a period of alternating ceasefires and military strikes until an indefinite ceasefire came into effect on 26 August.

The period between June and August 2014 was marked by heightened tensions across the West Bank, in which clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces intensified and led to casualties and many arrests of Palestinians (see section below on Arrests).

The extensive Israeli aerial bombardment, naval shelling and artillery fire had devastating results on public infrastructure, including water, sanitation and energy. Although infrastructure had been repeatedly hit during previous escalations, the damage on this occasion was unprecedented. Already extremely fragile prior to the hostilities, the damage to the water and energy infrastructure further undermined access to basic services and sources of livelihood.

During the reporting period, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of 82 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, displacing nearly 200 people, 60 per cent of them children, and otherwise negatively affecting another 300. Although demolitions were fewer in number than during the beginning of the year and the equivalent period in 2013, the resumption of punitive and ‘military’ demolitions, and the advancement of a plan to ‘relocate’ entire Bedouin communities in Area C, were worrying developments.

The response of national authorities during the hostilities was severely constrained by the long-standing movement and access restrictions imposed on Gaza, as well as internal Palestinian divisions. The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation since July 2013 had depleted people’s coping mechanisms and weakened the preparedness of the authorities to respond to emergencies. Humanitarian actors also noted gaps in preparedness and stock shortages, mainly due to a lack of funding in certain critical sectors and entry challenges for so-called dual use items.

The period between 7 July and 26 August 2014 witnessed the deadliest escalation in hostilities to affect the population of Gaza since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967. The cumulative death toll among Palestinians was at least 2,189 according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources.

Words cannot express the enormity of the loss and human suffering sustained by the people of the Gaza Strip during the seven weeks of hostilities in July and August. It was the deadliest and most destructive escalation since the start of the Israeli occupation in 1967. At least 1,486 Palestinian civilians, including more than 500 children, were killed and around 11,000 people were injured, up to ten per cent of them with long-term or permanent impairments. Some half a million people were displaced at the height of hostilities, and approximately 108,000 were made homeless. Around 13 per cent of the housing stock was damaged, including up to 20,000 homes totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. The extensive damage to public infrastructure further undermined the already precarious access to basic services that prevailed prior to the conflict, including electricity, water and sanitation, health, and education.