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Gaza - ICRC Bulletin No. 10 / 2006

10-10-2006 Operational Update

Latest Report on ICRC activities in the field

 
General Situation
 

Occasional clashes between opposing Palestinian groups continued in the Gaza Strip throughout most of the week, but did not reach the level of tension seen on 1 October. There were nevertheless a number of incidents that claimed the lives of three people, thus bringing the number of fatalities to 12 since the month began. An additional 43 people were injured during the week, including many civilians caught in crossfire.

Following the events of 1 October, violent incidents were also reported in the West Bank, particularly Ramallah, Hebron, Jericho, Qalqilya and Nablus. The atmosphere in the streets remains tense.

Palestinian militant groups reportedly continued to launch homemade rockets against Israel. Although one rocket landed close to the home of the mayor of Sderot, no casualties were reported on the Israeli side.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued attacks against militants and destruction of houses and workshops allegedly storing or manufacturing weapons. There were also brief incursions into a number of other areas.

Saifa, in the northeastern Gaza Strip, bore the brunt of IDF activity. On 1 October – for the third time in two weeks – agricultural land was levelled and irrigation systems destroyed. A fourth and longer incursion took place on 6 October. The ICRC was granted access to the area during the operation and was able to provide the families affected with food, hygiene kits and blankets.

A small improvement has been noted in the movement of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip. The Karni cargo terminal opened on 4 October and the Rafah border crossing to Egypt also opened for two days. However, the tight restrictions on access to the sea by fishermen remain in force.

 
ICRC and Red Cross / Red Crescent activities:
 

During the past week, the ICRC has distributed relief kits to 29 families whose houses had been destroyed in the Rafah, Shoka and Khan Younis areas. The kits contained tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets and other essential household items. Since late August, 295 families have received such aid from the ICRC.

The ICRC also distributed ad hoc emergency aid, in the form of food parcels and hygiene kits, to 29 families in the Rafah and Khan Younis districts during the same period.

ICRC medical staff visited the Beit Hanoun and Shifa hospitals in the wake of last week's violence to discuss with officials the conditions in those facilities and their needs. The visits were part of the ICRC's ongoing policy of maintaining close ties with hospitals throughout the West Bank and Gaza. The organization also helped coordinate the transfer to Gaza of medical supplies stored by the government in Ramallah.

The ICRC has continued facilitating movement by ambulances of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) despite military operations. It has also helped organize the evacuation of patients requiring treatment outside the Gaza Strip. It supports PRCS emergency medical services, hospitals and primary health-care centres, while facilitating the delivery of essential medical supplies.

The ICRC's family-visit programme for Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons resumed on 13 August in the Gaza Strip. From 2 to 5 October, 197 relatives visited 105 detainees.

The ICRC maintains its c ontacts with the authorities and with various Palestinian groups, and constantly reiterates its desire to gain access to the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Through these contacts and its public statements, the ICRC urges those holding the soldier to treat him humanely, to respect his life and dignity, and to allow him to communicate with his family.

 
Facts and Figures
 
Since the end of June, the ICRC has:
 
  • installed 14 generators donated by the Norwegian Red Cross, this to ensure continuous electricity for drinking-water and waste-water pumping stations as well as for a limb-fitting centre
  • provided 150,000 litres of fuel for generators at pumping stations and other facilities such as the limb-fitting centre
  • installed water tanks to enable 56,000 litres of drinking water per month to be distributed where the IDF had destroyed existing distribution systems
  • distributed tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets and other essential household items including tents (when required) to 473 families whose houses had been destroyed or damaged
  • provided 833 families with parcels containing food sufficient for one month, as well as hygiene items
  • organized the delivery of six emergency surgical kits donated by the Swiss Red Cross to the PRCS, each containing supplies sufficient to treat 100 patients hospitalized because of wounds from weapons
  • provided three similar kits to medical facilities throughout the Gaza Strip
  • transferred 15 ICRC dressing kits (each with material for 50 dressings) to Gaza for rapid distribution if required
  • provided advanced training on conflict-related emergencies for 17 surgeons in Gaza City, and map-reading courses for PRCS emergency staff
  • since the resumption of the family-visit programme on 13 August, enabled 2,710 people from the Gaza Strip to visit relatives (1,246 in all) being held in Israeli places of detention.
  •  
    For further information, please contact:
      Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2426 or +41 79 217 32 64
      Bana Sayeh, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 57 880 91 93
      Bernard Barrett, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 2 582 88 45