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Gaza – ICRC Bulletin No. 06 / 2006

12-09-2006 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

  General situation
 

The almost permanent closure of entry and exit points, the continued incursions by Israeli military forces and the non-payment of salaries to civil servants continue to mark the lives of the 1.4 million residents of the Gaza strip. The mood of the population is described as one of despair, with little hope seen for any improvement in the situation.

An estimated two thirds of Gaza's residents are now living below the poverty line of 2 US dollars per day. Many have reduced their essential expenses to meet minimum nutritional requirements.

The public service strike called to protest unpaid salaries caused little disruption to services, which had already been reduced to basic levels. Teachers returned to work on 10 September.

Although shelling decreased in the latter part of August, people continued to suffer the consequences of military operations. Farmers and Bedouin communities in the Shoka area of southern Gaza were particularly affected by the destruction of houses, agricultural land, irrigation systems and greenhouses.

The Beit Hanoun, Shejaya and Jabalya areas in the north were also affected, as was the Khan Younis area in the south. In the last week of August, three incursions into Shejaya, Beit Hanoun and Izbet Abd Rabbouh left 22 people dead and 36 injured. Since 26 June an estimated 226 Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israeli military operations. According to official Palestinian sources, 118 of the dead, including 80 women and children, were civilians.

Rockets launch ed from inside the Gaza Strip continued to fall on Israeli territory, injuring civilians and causing damage to property.

The main cargo transit point at Karni reopened on 10 September for the first time since the end of June, but other crossing points for Palestinians generally remain closed. The Sufa crossing point was opened in the last week of August to let in humanitarian aid and the Erez crossing point was open for humanitarian cases and international workers only. The Rafah border crossing with Egypt opened for two days on 25 and 26 August, allowing 6,000 people to cross in both directions.

 
ICRC and Red Cross / Red Crescent activities
 
Water and sanitation
 

The ICRC has completed the delivery of 14 generators donated by the Norwegian Red Cross. Thirteen generators were allocated to water and wastewater pumping stations across the Strip and one was given to the Artificial Limb and Polio Orthopaedic Centre in Gaza City. The ICRC will also provide 1,000 litres of fuel per month for four months to the centre as well as 4,000 litres per month for three months to the Arabia Juvenile Centre. 

Following the destruction of the Gaza power station in late June, the ICRC provided 120,000 litres of fuel for backup generators to keep water and sewage pumps operating until the EU's Temporary International Mechanism was able to ensure fuel supplies.

In the Shoka area, where over 70 families have lost their homes, the destruction of pipes caused disruptions to the water supply. The ICRC therefore installed some water tanks to ensure the distribution of 56,000 litres of municipal water per month.

 
Emergency aid
 

In September the ICRC provided tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets and other essential household items for 25 families whose houses had been destroyed in the Shoka and Khan Younis areas and for another 28 families in Beit Hanoun and Gaza City. Tents were also supplied when required. In late August 136 families received similar assistance.

Working with volunteers from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), the ICRC also distributes hygiene items and food supplies for one month to households affected by the military operations in the Gaza Strip. Since the end of June, close to 800 families have received such assistance.

 
Support to health services
 

Despite the military operations, the ICRC is continuing to facilitate the movement of PRCS ambulances and the evacuation of patients requiring treatment outside the Gaza Strip. It is also supporting PRCS emergency medical services, hospitals and primary health-care centres and facilitating the delivery of essential medical supplies. 

On 12 September the ICRC helped deliver six emergency health kits donated to the PRCS by the Swiss Red Cross. Each kit contained enough material to treat 100 patients hospitalized for weapon wounds.

From 20 to 23 August the ICRC held a course in Gaza City for 17 surgeons working in conflict-related emergencies.

 
Activities on behalf of detainees
 

The ICRC's family visit programme for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons resumed on 13 August for detainees whose families live in Gaza. From 28 Augu st to 7 September over 800 family members were able to visit 374 detainees in different places of detention.

The ICRC is maintaining contact with the relevant authorities and various Palestinian groups and has repeatedly expressed its desire to gain access to the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Both through these contacts and in its public statements, it has urged those holding the soldier to treat him humanely, to respect his life and dignity and to allow him to communicate with his family.

 
For further information, please contact:
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  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 or +972 57 221 55 09
  Yael Eytan, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 52 275 75 17 or +972 35 24 52 86