Decline in Israeli shooting incidents along the fence and at the sea; two Palestinian fishermen killed by the Egyptian navy. Easing of the COVID-related lockdown measures, including movement restrictions between governorates. A temporary UN mechanism to support the access of patients to medical treatment in the West Bank and Israel was launched. The Rafah passenger Crossing with Egypt opened for three days in both directions.
A strict lockdown was imposed by the local authorities in Gaza, following the detection of the first COVID-19 cases outside quarantine centres on 24 August. Intermittent hostilities in Gaza and southern Israel resulted in injuries and significant property damage on both sides. In response to the escalation, the Israeli authorities reduced the permissible fishing zone and halted the entry of most goods to Gaza, including fuel, leading to the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) and triggering power cuts for up to 20 hours a day. The Rafah passenger crossing with Egypt was reopened in both directions for three days, alongside a sharp increase in the entry of goods from Egypt throughout the month.
No casualties reported as a result of hostilities in Gaza for the second month in a row. Exit arrangements for treatment in Israel and East Jerusalem, via the Erez Crossing, continues to be affected due to the halt of coordination between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. A male patient died after his exit to undergo urgent surgery in Israel was delayed due to the halt of coordination, the third in this context since 21 May. The Egyptian and Palestinian authorities kept the Rafah Crossing with Egypt closed between 15 May and 10 August to control the spread of COVID-19.
Two infants died after their exit arrangements for treatment in Israel and East Jerusalem have been delayed due to the halt of coordination between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities since 21 May. As part of the arrangements introduced by the Palestinian and Egyptian authorities in the context of COVID-19 crisis, the Rafah passenger crossing with Egypt has remained closed in both directions since 15 May. The volume of imports via the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Israel increased, while imports from Egypt declined; no change in the types of items imported. Supply of potable water in parts of Gaza city improved following increased production at the Gaza seawater desalination plant. Per capita GDP in the first quarter of 2020 dipped to US$331, down from $355 in the previous quarter. (PCBS)
As part of the measures to contain the pandemic, the de facto authorities announced the full closure of the two passenger crossings, from 23 May till the end of June; however, limited movement through the Erez crossing with Israel, continued in both directions. Exit of people through the Erez crossing has been also disrupted following the suspension of coordination between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel while movement of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing remained unchanged. A week-long heat wave triggered power cuts of 12 hours per day, up from nine hours during the rest of the month. The unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2020 stood at 46 per cent, the same as during the equivalent period in 2019; the figure only partially captures the impact of the COVID-19 measures, imposed since March.
In the context of COVID-19 restrictions, the passenger crossings with Egypt and Israel were largely closed during April, with crossing limited to humanitarian cases. The Rafah crossing was briefly opened in one direction to allow for the return of some 1,630 Palestinians from Egypt. Relative calm in the Gaza Strip continued. During the month, there were no incidents of rocket firing or air strikes. Municipalities across Gaza reported a gradual reduction in basic services, particularly waste collection, due to reduced revenues since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The Qatari fund for purchasing fuel for the Gaza Power Plant was extended until September 2020, facilitating the provision of an average of 15 hours per day of electricity supply to residents.
In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, passenger crossings with Egypt and Israel were largely closed since mid-March for the exit of people, while those returning to Gaza were sent to quarantine sites. Sharp increase in the volume of goods entering Gaza via Israel and Egypt. Rise in the percentage of essential drugs at zero stock level. Relative calm continues: no conflict-related fatality recorded during the month.
Low intensity hostilities between Israel and a Palestinian armed group continued throughout the month, without resulting in civilian fatalities. Access restrictions on people and goods between Gaza and Israel tightened intermittently in the context of these hostilities; imports of goods through Kerem Shalom crossing declined; exit of people via Erez crossing also decreased, compared to previous month. Water supply to Rafah area disrupted, following destruction of infrastructure in an Israeli attack.
The waiting time for some elective surgeries at Gaza’s main hospital (Al Shifa Hospital) sharply increased. The number of exits through Rafah and Erez crossings increased, compared to the 2019 monthly averages. The number of explosive/incendiary balloons, as well as rockets and mortars launched from Gaza into southern Israel increased. Increase in the volume of truckloads entering Gaza from Egypt and exiting Gaza via Israel. “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstrations halted.
The Gaza Strip faces a chronic 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 crisis, identify areas of further deterioration and trigger humanitarian action.