Response to the escalation in the oPt | Situation Report No. 2 (28 May - 3 June 2021)
In Gaza, the ceasefire is holding: 8,500 internally displaced people remain with host families and in two UNRWA schools.
Repairs are ongoing, but damage to basic infrastructure and utilities is limiting the provision of electricity and piped water.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces have continued across the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, resulting in two Palestinian fatalities.
The emergency response plan requires US$95 million to address the needs of 1.1 million Palestinians for a three-month period.
No serious incidents have been reported since the ceasefire entered into effect on 21 May. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), during the escalation, 256 Palestinians, including 66 children and 40 women were killed in Gaza, of whom 128 are believed to be civilians, 62 members of armed groups, and 66 are undetermined. About 245 of them, including 63 children and 40 women, were seemingly killed by Israeli Forces.
Almost 2,000 Palestinians were injured during the hostilities in Gaza, including over 600 children and 400 women, some of whom may suffer from a long-term disability requiring rehabilitation. Gaza’s health system, already overwhelmed by chronic drug shortages, inadequate equipment and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is now struggling to meet the needs of those injured during the hostilities.
At the height of the escalation, 113,000 internally displaced people sought shelter and protection at UNRWA schools or with hosting communities. There are still about 8,500 IDPs, including 235 in two UNRWA schools, primarily those whose houses were destroyed or so damaged as to be uninhabitable. According to local authorities, over 2,300 housing units were destroyed or severely damaged.
An estimated 16,250 housing units sustained some degree of damage, as did multiple water and sanitation facilities and infrastructure, 58 education facilities, nine hospitals and 19 primary healthcare centres. Of particular concern are the nearly 600,000 school-age children whose education was suspended during the hostilities, having already been repeatedly interrupted due to COVID-19 public safety restrictions.
The damage to infrastructure has exacerbated Gaza’s chronic infrastructure and power deficits, resulting in a decrease of clean water and sewage treatment, with an estimated 400,000 people still having irregular access to piped water. Damaged electricity feeder lines have been repaired, but rolling daily power cuts of 9-10 hours per day continue across Gaza. The Ministry of Public Works and Housing estimates that up to 300,000 tons of rubble have been generated as a result of the escalation: some 35 specialized vehicles were scheduled to enter Gaza from Egypt on 4 June to assist in rubble removal.
The Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing remains closed for most Palestinians in Gaza, with the exception of urgent medical referrals, including cancer patients. The Kerem Shalom Crossing remains open for the entry of specific basic commodities, including fodder and medical supplies and fuel for the private sector and for UNRWA. No goods have been authorized to leave Gaza by the Israeli authorities since 10 May.
Truckloads of aid, including food and medicine from Egypt and other countries, continue to enter through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on most days, as do food, fuel and construction materials through the Salah Ad Din gate with Egypt. Since 25 May, the Israeli authorities have allowed fishing to resume off the Gaza coast, but only to six nautical miles, affecting over 50,000 people involved in the fishing sector.
West Bank, including East Jerusalem
During the reporting period, two Palestinian fatalities and at least 97 injuries were recorded as a result of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces across the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. The fatalities included a 28-year-old Palestinian man who was shot by Israeli forces during a demonstration against the construction of a new Israeli settlement outpost near Beita village, Nablus. During the same demonstration, and in clashes with Israeli forces that followed, 70 Palestinians were injured, including nine by live ammunition. On 28 and 29 May, 15 Palestinians were injured, including seven by live ammunition, during clashes with Israeli forces, while protesting against an Israeli settlement outpost in Nilin village (Ramallah). Israeli settler attacks and violence against Palestinians and their property is increasing, both in numbers and severity, particularly in the H2 area of Hebron, Masafer Yatta and Kisan village in Bethlehem.
In East Jerusalem, Palestinian families still face the threat of forced eviction from their homes in the Karm Al Jaouni area of Sheikh Jarrah, initiated by Israeli settler organizations. Since 3 May, Israeli forces have been stationed at all five entrances to Karm Al Jaouni, allowing entry only to ambulances, UN vehicles and to the 114 Palestinian residents (some 29 families, including 37 children), who are ordered to present identifying documents. These checkpoints were reinforced on 16 May after a Palestinian rammed his car into seven members of Israeli forces, injuring them, and was subsequently shot dead. Humanitarian partners are providing psycho-social support to the residents and are assessing their needs.
Between 30 April and 22 May, more than 110 residents of Sheikh Jarrah were injured by sponge-tipped bullets, physical assault, stun grenades or gas inhalation. Some 16 people were arrested in demonstrations, including at least four journalists. On 18 May, an Israeli police officer shot a 16-year-old Palestinian girl in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet, injuring her seriously, inside her house in Um Haroun area of Sheikh Jarrah, as she was following police instructions to return home. The girl’s father was wounded in the leg in the same incident. Following a report of the incident and video footage in Israeli media, the Israeli Police suspended the officer and the Justice Ministry reportedly opened an investigation into the involvement of other officers in the incident.
On 27 May, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, Lynn Hastings, launched the inter-agency Flash Appeal, requesting $95 million to support emergency humanitarian and early recovery responses over a three-month period. The response plan envisages a swift transition to an early recovery phase, including the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure services and networks, and then to a medium- and long-term reconstruction and recovery framework. The plan complements the $417 million appealed for in the 2021 oPt Humanitarian Response Plan, covering pre-existing humanitarian needs.
The Humanitarian Coordinator has also released $18 million from the oPt Humanitarian Fund, with 95 per cent of the funding allocated to Gaza, and five per cent to health, protection and shelter activities in the West Bank. The Emergency Relief Coordinator in New York has released another $4.5 for the Gaza humanitarian response, including for the safe removal of explosive remnants war (ERW), rental subsidies for refugees whose homes were destroyed, and the restoration of basic services such as healthcare and water.
As of 3 June, the number of people confirmed to currently have COVID-19 across the oPt was 4,381. Since the outbreak began in the oPt, about 330,000 of the 338,174 cases have recovered, and 3,777 have died. The number of patients in intensive care units is 23, with three people requiring mechanical ventilation. The Case Fatality Rate (CFR), the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases, remains at 1.1 per cent.
In Gaza, follow-up on COVID-19 prevention measures, as well as testing and vaccination, was severely disrupted during the conflict, with testing limited to symptomatic people reporting to hospitals. As of 3 June, some 3,700 active cases were reported, up from 2,358 last week, who were isolated either at home or at hospitals designated for COVID-19 treatment by the local authorities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases is about 110,000, with 105,300 people recovered, and 1,023 deaths recorded.
Gaza now accounts for 84 per cent of all active cases in the oPt, with the recent increase attributed to the resumption of active testing. The West Bank continues to witness a decline in the number of cases. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has announced that, due to the low number of cases, COVID-19 treatment centres in the West Bank will resume general non-COVID operations, while maintaining a dedicated ward for COVID-19 patients.
The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) COVID-19 vaccination programme has resumed after being disrupted by the recent escalation. The health authorities in Gaza have increased the number of vaccination centres to 25, including nine operated by UNRWA. New vaccination centres have also opened in Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm governorates in the northern West Bank. As of 3 June, about 360,000 Palestinians have been vaccinated, of whom 230,000 have received a second dose, representing seven per cent of the population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These include approximately 110,000 Palestinian workers who have been vaccinated by the Israeli authorities.
Donation arrived 29 Mar 2021. delivered to Nablus Cold Store. 10,000 delivered to Gaza on 21 May 2021
Arrived 30 Mar 2021 - PA Bilateral purchase from AZ - Serum Institute of India
Arrived 13 April 2021 – PA bilateral purchase from AZR-Pharm (part of 2.0M order):
Up to 240,000 405,000 doses
Phase 1 (168,000 doses):
Third shipment (3 of 3) of estimated 72,000 doses expected Q2-2021 (not confirmed yet)
According to COVAX – delays expected
In pipeline: Donation
Bilateral donation from Jordanian private company
In progress (48,000 doses delivered 13 April, see above) PA MOH reports this deal is cancelled (to be verified)
MoH confirmed in a meeting with WHO that the deal is concluded. 205,000 doses expected Q2; 1.8 million Q3 and 2.0 million Q4
Humanitarian response & ongoing needs
There is an urgent need for increased case management particularly for vulnerable children in Gaza, including those at increased risk of child labour, school dropout, and children with disabilities. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, there is a noticeable increase in legal services requested for children detained by Israeli Forces and a growing need for protective presence, as community members report harassment at checkpoints and other hot-spots by Israeli forces and armed settlers.
Cluster partners are reporting a large volume of calls to the national helpline, with one partner-run helpline receiving over 33,600 calls between 23 and 28 May. A mass scale-up of all in-person and remote Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services for children, families and service providers is required.
Support for IDPs, particularly vulnerable women and girls, is needed through the provision of dignity kits, protection information, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cash and voucher assistance for women at risk of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), updated referral pathways and GBV detection and referrals through multi-sectoral counter GBV services.
Mine action interventions, including ERW removal and risk assessments at sites in Gaza, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and clearance, as well as risk education particularly for children and IDPs returning home remains a priority.
Responses already implemented
Legal assistance has been provided to facilitate exit authorizations for injured people as well as case-specific counselling to IDPs, and for destroyed housing units and severely damaged units. Legal aid activities aim at assisting affected populations in obtaining ownership documentation of housing units and property, as well as supporting beneficiaries in obtaining lost or missing ownership documents, and other legal assistance which may require coordination with local authorities or other service providers.
Child protection and specialized MHPSS responses continue. The responses include maintaining hotlines, provision of counselling sessions and mobile child protection teams providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) and structured psychosocial care for children and adults. In Gaza, cluster partners are conducting visits to people who lost their homes during the hostilities, to assess needs and provide PFA. Family Centres are providing PFA and individual counselling for children, while also following-up on specialized child protection case management services.
The GBV Sub-Cluster (SC) is providing cash, voucher and other assistance for GBV SC partners, as well as GBV and legal awareness. Cluster partners will be completing a needs assessment, focusing on seven categories of women and girls, during the month of June.
EOD risk assessments and clearance are ongoing, while the delivery of ERW risk messaging to vulnerable populations, particularly IDPs, has been provided through online platforms and social media.
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the monitoring and documentation of suspected violations continues, in addition to the provision of legal assistance for arrested children. Between 1 and 27 May, partners provided legal assistance to some 90 children detained by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Partners are providing MHPSS emergency response for people affected by Israeli forces’ excessive use of force, settler violence, and demolitions. Partners implemented family-based psychoeducation sessions on how critical incidents may impact the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of communities.
Infrastructure damage alongside recurrent electricity cuts and internet disconnection across Gaza is undermining outreach and remote service modalities.
There is an increasing demand for mental health and wellbeing support for frontline workers directly affected by the hostilities. For the time being, there is no possibility to invite MHPSS specialists to Gaza, and remote and online psychological support is not fully efficient in the current conditions.
There is a concern about coordination and referral processes, including by the authorities and ministries, as well as lengthy exit authorization processes for injured people in need of medical treatment outside of Gaza.
In West Bank, including East Jerusalem, access remains a key challenge due to the closures of village entrances by Israeli forces, checkpoints, Israeli settler demonstrations and sporadic clashes. The absence of international protective presence, due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, remains a major concern.
Trauma and emergency care.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.
Access to essential health services.
Stronger partner coordination and information management.
Responses already implemented
Partners continue to mobilize resources for the procurement and supply of some essential drugs, disposables and equipment.
There is ongoing support to deploy surgical teams to MoH hospitals.
A Gaza Health Cluster Meeting was held focusing on the current situation and responses.
Response activities related to COVID-19 have-intensified, including diagnostics, case management, infection prevention and vaccinations.
Partners have continued to provide first aid and emergency services to those injured in clashes across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Multiple resource limitations requiring funding as articulated in the recent Flash Appeal and increased COVID-19 needs, as highlighted in April.
During the reporting period Health Cluster partners provided support worth about $900,000.
Temporary shelter solutions for IDPs through cash assistance, alongside support for host families.
Repair of uninhabitable homes to reduce displacement and meet the growing need for homes.
Repair for partially damaged homes and interventions for the most vulnerable groups, including female-headed households, elderly, and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Provision of essential non-food items (NFIs).
Responses already implemented
Coordination with the relevant local authorities to better estimate the number of housing units destroyed or damaged and IDPs.
NFIs kits distributed to 1,292 families and NFIs and hygiene kits distributed to 1,050 families.
Ongoing distribution of cash assistance worth NIS300 ($92) to 10,000 families and NIS880 ($270) to 2,000 families.
In Gaza, adequate access to construction material is still a challenge, due to import restrictions.
Longstanding housing shortage in Gaza makes rent unaffordable for displaced families.
IDPs are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, due to overcrowding and the use of shared facilities.
An application to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for US$ 1.5 million to support homeless refugees is pending approval.
Ensuring that children in Gaza can resume learning as soon as possible, either remotely or in person.
Supporting the mental health and psychosocial well-being of students, parents, and educators in Gaza, through MHPSS support.
Ensuring that children can access safe and inclusive learning opportunities through the emergency repair of education facilities and the provision of non-formal education services.
59 UNRWA schools used as temporary shelter need rehabilitation before they can re-open.
Responses already implemented
Education Cluster assessment teams have visited all affected schools and assessed 80 schools, as of 27 May.
The shortage of adequate education infrastructure in Gaza, with around 65 per cent of schools operating on a double-shift system, in combination with damage to schools risks a further reduction in hours in core subjects and foundation learning.
Children’s ability to access education, both at school and at home, is also undermined by Gaza’s chronic electricity deficit, worsened due to the escalation.
Some UNRWA schools used as temporary shelters, and the two still operating, will also need rehabilitation before they can re-open.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
Providing household hygiene materials for vulnerable families, covering the household hygiene materials needs for 14 days.
Supporting WASH service providers in restoring and maintaining WASH services, by providing critical operation and maintenance materials and emergency fuel supplies.
Supporting the most vulnerable households affected by the hostilities, by providing domestic and drinking water and hygiene materials.
Responses already implemented
In Gaza, partners delivered 250.000 litres of emergency fuel to support the operation of 110 main WASH facilities, benefitting over one million people.
Partners are providing 8,500 households with trucked water, hygiene material and WASH items.
Power cuts in Gaza are severely affecting WASH operational capacities.
WASH service providers in Gaza have reported that their stocks of maintenance materials are running out.
There is limited data on WASH vulnerability regarding affected households.
WASH Cluster partners have secured $4.7 million, $1.5 million from the CERF and pledges for $3.3 million, half of this from the CERF.
In Gaza, ensure the entry of animal fodder and other agricultural inputs, so farmers can start the planting season.
Expanding the fishing zone for fishermen from six up to 20 nautical miles.
Rehabilitate damaged agricultural facilities, including water wells, irrigation systems, greenhouses, and livestock farms.
Conduct a needs assessment of agricultural damage and losses.
Provide food assistance to IDPS and new and existing food insecure
Provide assistance to rebuild the productive capacities of small holders and small food factories (conditional cash for work activity).
Responses already implemented
An initial assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) of damage to agricultural wells, ponds, reservoirs, greenhouses, and livestock farms, amounting to US$ 204 million, is ongoing.
Cluster partners continued providing cash assistance, in the form of food e-voucher and multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) to affected households, reaching more than 16,000 people.
Cluster partners have supported nearly 300,000 people in need in Gaza through emergency e-voucher assistance and in-kind food assistance.
Cluster partners are providing the remaining 235? IDPs in emergency shelters with food items.
Funding gaps are hindering the rehabilitation of damaged agricultural facilities.
Power shortages, coupled with damage to solar powered systems are hindering farmers from irrigating their crops and breeders from providing water t livestock and poultry.
The 6 nautical mile fishing restriction is limiting fisher livelihoods.
FAO has secured $610,000 to provide urgent fodder to affected breeders. Another $1 million is earmarked for the same purpose through the Humanitarian Fund.
WFP received a contribution of $2.7 million from the United Arab Emirates.
Coordination and support services
Responses already implemented
The Logistics Cluster coordinated the entry of 561 trucks carrying humanitarian assistance into Gaza, including fuel, cooking gas, medical supplies and materials for human and animal consumption.
The restrictions on the border crossings remain a major challenge.