Last month’s Bulletin featured an article highlighting the risk of multiple demolitions in Sur Bahir, a Palestinian neighbourhood mainly located within the annexed municipal area of East Jerusalem. On 22 July, in a major operation, the Israeli authorities deployed hundreds of security forces into the community to carry out the demolitions, destroying ten structures, including nine residential buildings, of which three were inhabited. This resulted in the displacement of four families, including 14 children, and property losses sustained by dozens of others, who had purchased apartments in the buildings.
Nine residential buildings in East Jerusalem demolished due to proximity to the Barrier, displacing four families and affecting many more. Following a court ruling, a Palestinian family in East Jerusalem evicted from home, which was handed over to Israeli settlers; nearly 200 families face similar eviction threats. Ceasefire understanding in Gaza holds, alongside continuing impediments to the movement of local humanitarian staff. 90,000 children participated in UNRWA/UNICEF summer camps in Gaza, which provided recreational activities and psychosocial assistance in a safe environment.
It is estimated that 199 Palestinian households currently have eviction cases filed against them, the majority initiated by settler organizations, placing 877 people, including 391 children, at risk of displacement. Evictions can have a grave physical, social, economic and emotional impact on the affected families.
Since early 2018, citing security concerns, the Israeli authorities, and to a lesser extent Hamas, have imposed various measures which further tightened restrictions on the movement of humanitarian staff in and out of Gaza. Combined, these procedures have increased uncertainty, delays and logistic challenges. The UN continues to conduct negotiations with all relevant actors in Israel and Gaza to alleviate these restrictions.
UNRWA, in partnership with UNICEF and with the support of the European Union, has concluded the “Keeping Kids Active” (KKA) project in Gaza. Over five weeks, from 29 June to 1 August, KKA reached approximately 100,000 children throughout Gaza, providing recreational activities, psychosocial assistance, and referrals to more specialized mental health services, where needed.
On 26 July, a 23-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed with live ammunition in the Gaza Strip during the weekly ‘Great March of Return’ (GMR) demonstration near the perimeter fence with Israel. This was the first fatality recorded in the GMR demonstrations since 10 May 2019.
The Gaza Strip faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, impacting the livelihoods and access to essential services by its two million residents. This crisis has been driven by over 12 years of an Israeli blockade and an unsolved internal Palestinian divide, exacerbated since March 2018 by the massive increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of demonstrations taking place near Israel’s perimeter fence, as well as limited escalations in hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups. The following indicators were identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to monitor specific aspects of the the crisis, trigger humanitarian action and prevent further deterioration.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip have undermined the living conditions of about two million Palestinians. Many of the restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a blockade. These restrictions limit access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. In recent months, OCHA has witnessed some easing of restrictions such as opening Kerem Shalom crossing on Friday for the entry of Qatari-funded fuel for the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) and an increase in the number of permits issued to merchants.
We are following with sadness today the Israeli authorities’ destruction of homes in the Palestinian community of Sur Bahir. Initial information emerging from the community indicates that hundreds of Israeli forces entered the community this morning and have demolished a number of residential buildings, including inhabited homes, located in Areas A, B and C of the West Bank on the East Jerusalem side of the Barrier. The large-scale operation began in the early hours of this morning while it was still dark, forcing families out of their homes, and causing great distress among residents. Among those forcibly displaced or otherwise impacted are Palestine refugees, some of whom today are facing the reality of a second displacement in living memory.
A total of 359 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during the reporting period in demonstrations held in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’ (GMR) in Gaza, a significant decline in such casualties since the demonstrations started in March 2018.