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Gaza – ICRC Bulletin No. 05 / 2006

01-09-2006 Operational Update

Situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate, with crossing points closed most of the time

Two months after the start of Israeli military operations, life for the 1.4 million people living in the Gaza Strip remains very difficult.

Those operations continued to affect the residents of Gaza throughout August, especially the Shoka area (in the south of the Gaza Strip), where military action killed 17 people and destroyed houses, agricultural land, irrigation systems and greenhouses. The farming and Bedouin communities there lost their homes and their livelihoods. People in areas in the north of the Gaza Strip – Beit Hanoun, Shejaya, Jabalia – also continued to be affected, as did those in Khan Younis in the south.

Meanwhile, rockets launched from inside the Gaza Strip continued to fall on Israeli territory, injuring civilians and causing damage to property.

Crossing points in and out of the Gaza Strip remained closed for most of August. The Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the only gateway to the outside world for Palestinians in Gaza, was opened on 25 and 26 August, enabling a total of 6,000 people to cross in both directions.

The main cargo transit point at Karni remained closed most of the time, resulting in a virtual cessation of exports and a sharp reduction in imports of raw materials, while Erez was open for humanitarian cases and international workers only. Sufa crossing point was opened briefly to let in humanitarian assistance.

 
ICRC and Red Cross / Red Crescent action  
ICRC provides 14 generators to run water pumps
 

On 31 August, the ICRC delivered six generators to power water pumping stations across the Gaza Strip. In cooperation with the Norwegian Red Cross, the ICRC in August provided a total of 14 generators with capacities of between 80 kVA and 410 kVA, weighing a total of 39 metric tonnes.

People in the Gaza Strip are still suffering the consequences of the destruction in late June of the Gaza power station. This action robbed the area of half its generating capacity, which meant there was not enough power for water and sewerage pumps. The Gaza Strip relies on approximately 160 pumping stations for the supply of domestic water and evacuation of sewage.

 
300 needy families receive emergency aid
 

The ICRC assisted 300 families (around 1,800 people) during August, bringing to 770 the total number of families (around 4,600 people) to have received aid since the start of military operations at the end of June. Working with volunteers from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), the ICRC distributed food parcels containing sufficient food for one family for one month, hygiene items and other essentials to families affected by the military operations in different parts of the Gaza Strip. The ICRC also supplied tents, tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets and jerrycans to people whose homes had been damaged or destroyed.

In the Shoka area, in the southern Gaza Strip, no fewer than 70 families lost their homes. Many of these were living in the open with their livestock. Shortage of water was a major problem, as water pipes had been destroyed. In addition to providing food parcels and hygiene kits, the ICRC therefore set up a water distribution system using three tanker trucks. In total, 56,000 litres of water provided by the municipality were distributed in Shoka over the course of the month, in cooperation with the PRCS.

 
ICRC continues to support health services in Gaza
 

The ICRC regularly facilitated the movements of PRCS ambulances so that they could reach the wounded despite ongoing military operations. The ICRC also facilitated medical evacuations of patients in need of specialized treatment to hospitals outside the Gaza Strip.

The ICRC continued to support PRCS-run emergency medical services, hospitals and primary health-care centres, as well as facilitating the delivery of essential medical supplies to them.

On 20-23 August, the ICRC held a course in Gaza city for 17 surgeons dealing with conflict-related emergencies.

 
ICRC family visit programme resumed
 

On 13 August, the ICRC's family-visit programme for Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons, which the Israeli authorities had suspended on 25 June, was started again for families from Gaza. The programme resumed for much of the West Bank on 6 August.

The ICRC family visit programme allows around 600 people from the Gaza Strip, and 6,000 from the West Bank, to visit their detained relatives each week.

 
Palestine Red Crescent action
 

The PRCS continued to operate its two hospitals, four primary health-care centres and ambulance services. During the first three weeks of August, the PRCS transported 65 wounded and removed 32 bodies.

 
 
For more information, please contact:
   Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  Bernard Barrett, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 57 221 55 09
  Bana Sayeh, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 57 880 91 93
  Yael Eytan, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 52 275 75 17 or +972 35 24 52 86