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Gaza Situation - Report 12

24 hour reports by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)

Due to the dramatic escalation in violence over the past few days and the massive assault on Gaza, UNRWA has declared an emergency in all five areas of the Gaza Strip. It is closely monitoring the situation and stands ready to mount an emergency response should that become necessary. The priority for the Agency has now shifted to emergency operations, providing assistance to those who have been displaced and sought shelter in UNRWA schools, while attempting to continue regular operations. Urgent funding needs persist and are increasing

Key parts:

The number of displaced people in UNRWA schools has since gone beyond the peak number from the 2008/9 conflict, and now exceeds 83,000 in 60 schools.

The tragedy of the conflict continued to unfold in Gaza overnight as the number of civilian fatalities increased yet again, with thousands more distraught civilians displaced by the relentless violence. In addition to ongoing fighting in the north of Gaza and in eastern Khan Younis, two new Israeli ground incursions occurred over night – one in the Middle Area and another in Shejaiha, east of Gaza City. At 08:00 there were a total four IDF incursions underway.”

Shejaiha was particularly badly affected with thousands of people reportedly fleeing their homes this morning, as heavy bombardment from Israeli tanks and artillery continued. The situation remains tense across all of the five areas of Gaza. Medical authorities at Shifa hospital reported that 300 injured people had already been received at the hospital and confirmed 40 fatalities. Those numbers could increase significantly as it is understood that there may be many more still unable to evacuate from Shejaiha.

Hundreds of civilians, including Palestine refugees, are also crowding in the compound of Shifa Hospital – the main medical facility in the Gaza Strip. The situation could not be more dire for the collapsed health sector in Gaza, with this latest conflict only adding to the burden on overwhelmed doctors and medical staff.

This is the third war in five and a half years endured by the people of Gaza. As with previous conflicts, there is nowhere for women, men and children to escape to. The Strip is densely populated and the seven-year Israeli-imposed blockade means that people’s movement to and from Gaza remains virtually banned. Since July 2013, the operation of Rafah crossing, at the southern end of the Strip, has also been significantly reduced by the Egyptian authorities, citing security concerns.”

The escalation of violence is now more acutely affecting UNRWA’s regular operations. All UNRWA installations in Magazi and Bureij refugee camps in the Middle Area are closed because of ongoing security concerns. Two health clinics remain closed and another three had operations disrupted after sustaining damage. A total of 18 UNRWA installations were closed during the reporting period.

At the moment, due to ongoing violence, it continues to be extremely difficult to deliver supplies to Beit Hanoun in the very north of the Gaza Strip, where more than 2,500 people are taking shelter in an UNRWA school. Some efforts have been made to undertake local delivery of goods within this area but access to it has so far been denied by the Israeli authorities.

According to the Protection Cluster, there were at least 54 people killed over night, ten of whom were children – seven boys and three girls. The total death toll since 8 July has reached 368 people, with the Palestinian Ministry of Public Health reporting about 2,295 injured. At least 80 children are amongst the total dead. This number is expected to rise, perhaps considerably, during the course of the day.

Reportedly, there were 113 missiles, 961 navy shells and 1,045 tank shells fired into the Gaza Strip. It is reported that 44 houses were bombarded. 84 rockets and 35 mortar shells were fired towards Israel.

A total of 72 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June, 2014. In the past 24 hours, three UNRWA installations were damaged – one school in Rafah, a school in the north of Gaza and a storehouse holding NFIs [Non-food items], also in the north. It is understood that none of the NFIs were lost, but the store was closed after being damaged by airstrikes.”

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