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Gaza Situation - Report 46

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:

IDP numbers on the rise. Currently 292,959 IDPs in 85 UNRWA schools. Average IDP population per UNRWA school is 3,482. The total number of IDPs staying in shelters supported by UNRWA is 327,118 (including 34,159 IDPs in 7 government shelters).”

Israeli news reports last night that a rocket was launched from an UNRWA school were false. Israeli officials retracted their earlier claim that the rocket which killed a four-year-old child in Southern Israel was launched from an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA calls upon the media outlets that rushed to report the incident without seeking confirmation from UNRWA to also report the Israeli army retraction.

UNRWA is working under incredible pressure in Gaza, providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting and effectively supporting the entire population of the Gaza Strip through various interventions.”

According to preliminary information recorded by the Protection Cluster, the cumulative death toll among Palestinians stands at 2,048. 1,441 – 70 per cent – are believed to be civilians, including 479 children and 249 women. Over the course of the military escalation, 67 Israelis were killed, including 64 soldiers, three civilians, including the four year old child yesterday, plus one foreign national.

UNRWA is expecting a further increase in IDP numbers, as aerial bombardments continue day and night. IDF messages are delivered through leaflets, voice mail and texts to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. The messages, stating 'the battle is open' and warning civilians to stay away from terrorists and terror infrastructure as the IDF will continue their attacks, cause major panic amongst the population.”

Over 460,000 Palestinians – a quarter of the total population – are internally displaced. The majority of the displaced are sheltered in 84 UNRWA schools.”

As of last night, 61,206 school-aged children between 6 and 14 were staying in UNRWA’s shelters. This represents a quarter of the school children UNRWA was expecting for the new 2014/15 school year which was due to start tomorrow 24 August. UNRWA will ring the bells in all UNRWA schools tomorrow morning, host a symbolic ceremony and organize in each school an assembly facilitated by school principals. In coordination with the Ministry of Education, UNRWA is also working on the emergency education plan.”

People with disabilities face additional difficulties coping with the violence of the conflict, fleeing their homes and being displaced in shelters. People who had existing disabilities before the start of this conflict were especially vulnerable when violence escalated, and people who have acquired disabilities during the conflict now face a long road to recovery. An estimated 1,000 of the 3,000 children who have been injured will suffer from a life-long disability.

Ms. Fatma Audeh Abu-Sawaween, an UNRWA teacher who has five daughters, spoke about difficulties in reaching the UNRWA shelter with her disabled daughter when she fled her home. Maysson is a 15 year-old girl taking refuge in an UNRWA shelter in Rafah. When Maysson’s family fled shelling near their home, she was afraid as she could not move due to her disability and was dependent on other people assisting her.”

Mr. Monther Muneer Abu Shehada is a 30 year-old man staying in a shelter with his family in Maghazi. He had to flee his home with seven family members. Two of his sons are blind, and he held their hands as the family fled, while his wife carried their young baby and helped the disabled grandfather. The old man asked to be left behind as he did not want to be a burden to the family, but his son refused, saying he would carry his father to the shelter if he had to.

For people who have acquired disabilities through the recent violence, they will face additional difficulties even after the conflict ends. Children will face barriers in accessing education and adults may have difficulty returning to the work they used to do.”

Throughout the war, UNRWA has distributed food to the current caseload of over 830,000 people.

Reportedly, there were 114 rockets and 58 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 91 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza in addition to 28 navy shells. 101 tank shells were fired from the fence into populated areas. Reportedly, 13 houses were bombarded.

Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 109 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.

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