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West Bank and Gaza – ICRC Bulletin No. 18 / 2007

25-01-2007 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

 General situation  

    

Over the past week, military operations have been carried out by the Israeli army in the northern part of the West Bank. These have affected the Palestinian population, with people being wounded or killed.

In many parts of the West Bank, especially Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah districts, restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli authorities have eased and people have been able to travel more freely in and out of the towns for business and for private purposes.

There have, however, been no significant changes regarding access by people and goods to Gaza. All crossing points between Israel and Gaza have remained open throughout the week, but with restrictions that severely limit the number of Gaza residents allowed to cross. (About one thousand have been let through.) The Rafah terminal, linking Gaza to Egypt, remained closed throughout the week.

The rate of destruction of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem has risen dramatically in recent weeks. Since 15 January, seven houses have been demolished on orders from the Israeli authorities and 13 families lost their homes. The grounds for the demolitions were the lack of construction permits. However, extremely complicated procedures and rigid zoning laws make it close to impossible for East Jerusalemites to obtain the required permission.

The strike by Palestinian Authority civil servants, which had caused further det erioration in an already alarming economic situation in the Palestinian territories, officially ended and the population were finally able to receive the services of which they had been deprived for six months, including basic documents such as birth certificates, passports, identification papers, driving licences and vehicle registration. Some shops had reopened the credit accounts for government employees as their salaries were likely to be paid soon.

 ICRC activities  

    

The ICRC delivered consignments of medicines and disposables for surgical patients to the central medical stores in Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus. These shipments will help to treat over 7,000 patients of government hospitals in the West Bank.

In the Jordan Valley, the ICRC began construction of a water pump for use by 850 farmers of Marj Naje village. This investment supplements other ICRC water-supply projects (extension, repair and upgrading of distribution networks, pumps, and tanks) under way across the West Bank in Hebron, Bethlehem, Qalqilia and Tulkarem districts. An estimated 158,000 persons will benefit from these projects over the next few months.

The ICRC has organized five visits   by veterinarians to two villages in Bethlehem district and three villages in Jenin district to examine sheep that were supplied to families in the past month. The ICRC gave 822 pregnant sheep as well as feed for them to 274 families in the West Bank in order to provide a minimum sustainable income for people especially affected by the consequences of the West Bank Barrier, closures and the general breakdown of the Palestinian economy.

In Gaza, the ICRC donated over a tonne of wheat flour to Shoka municipality (sou th Gaza Strip) for distribution to Bedouin families. After the Bedouins from Shoka fled the fighting last year, their agricultural land was destroyed and some of their dwellings levelled.

In Tulkarem and Qalikilia districts in the northern West Bank, the ICRC provided about 100 farmers with building materials to renovate their greenhouses. The farmers, who live and work close to the West Bank Barrier, had problems obtaining the materials because of restrictions on movements imposed by the Israeli authorities.

In the past week, 4,564 people from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Salfit, Jenin, Tubas, Ramallah and Jericho districts visited relatives being held in 22 places of detention in Israel. The ICRC hired 146 buses and 52 taxis for the purpose and facilitated their movement in coordination with the Israeli authorities.

The ICRC maintained its contacts with the authorities and with various Palestinian groups, and constantly reiterated its request to have access to the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Through these contacts and its public statements, the ICRC urged those holding the soldier to treat him humanely, to respect his life and dignity and to allow him to communicate with his family.

 In 2006, the ICRC:  

  • enabled people from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem to make over 220,000 visits to relatives detained in Israeli places of detention

  • individually monitored the situation of close to 20,000 people held in Israeli places of detention

  • forwarded over 20,000 Red Cross messages (brief personal messages to relatives who are otherwise unreachable because of armed conflict) between detainees and their immediate families, and made several t housand telephone calls to family members to inform them of the whereabouts and welfare of detained relatives

  • during the health-care strike, monitored the situation in government surgical hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank, while supplying the central medical stores with life-saving medicines and disposables to help these hospitals continue providing essential emergency services

  • supported the emergency services and other essential medical services of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, while facilitating movement by the Society's ambulances when necessary, in particular during Israeli military incursions

  • distributed tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets and other essential household items, including tents when required, to over 1,000 families whose houses had been destroyed or damaged

  • provided back-up power generators and fuel, and set up, extended or repaired water-supply systems for over 134,000 people, particularly those affected by military operations in Gaza

  • in the old town of Hebron, provided monthly food parcels for some 1,800 families, particularly those affected by " strict closures " , which prevent residents from leaving their homes (over 37,200 food parcels and some 5,300 hygiene kits were distributed, along with over 157 tonnes of wheat flour for 1,250 vulnerable families)

  • operated livelihood-support programmes that enabled more than 800 households to develop new ways of generating income despite restrictions on movement imposed by the closures, the settlements or the West Bank Barrier.

 
For further information, please contact:
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  Marcin Monko, ICRC Jerusalem, tel. +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 50
  Bana Sayeh, ICRC Jerusalem, tel. +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 48