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27 August, 2014

Gaza Situation - Report 49

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:

The Gaza population is terrified as the Israeli Air Force (IAF) continues to destroy selected residential and commercial properties across the Gaza Strip and in the heart of the coastal enclave, Gaza City. The strikes follow warnings through leaflets, text messages or phone calls, some of them pre-recorded, others reportedly sent from mobile phone numbers abroad, to Gaza residents, just minutes before an attack. Gazans do not know whether a text message is a hoax, an immediate threat to their life, loved ones, or home, or a general warning. The psychological impact of this practice is enormous.”

There are no sirens and no bunkers for civilians, and there is nowhere safe to run with the potential exception of UN facilities. Last night, thirteen and fourteen floor towers in Gaza City were attacked and completely destroyed. In the middle of the night, hundreds of panicked residents from towers across from UNRWA’s main office in Gaza city crowded into the yard of the Agency’s technical college adjacent to the compound, hoping this would provide them some enhanced degree of protection.

For civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza City right now the situation is more dangerous than at any time in the past fifty days, with missiles strikes on vehicles taking place without warning right outside buildings including the UNRWA compound. Yesterday afternoon, a suspected drone strike impacted on the street 30 meters from the UNRWA guards at the main gate. One distribution center in Gaza City was closed after airstrikes in the near vicinity. The UNRWA guard, who is there to protect the distribution center and to ensure neutrality of UN installations, fell over taking cover and sustained severe injuries on his back.”

Over the course of the past 24 hours and according to initial reports, some 9 Palestinians were killed and 74 injured, and one Palestinian died of his wounds sustained during previous days of conflict.

Reportedly, there were 69 rockets and 79 mortar shells fired towards Israel. There were also reports that 128 air-to-ground missiles were fired into Gaza. 155 tank shells were fired from the fence into populated areas. Reportedly, 25 houses in Gaza were bombarded.

Almost all families in Gaza are coping with grief – including many cases in which multiple members of the same family have been killed. Extreme and continuous levels of violence have caused deep levels of fear in the population of Gaza.”

An emerging priority is emergency education activities. It has been impossible for children to begin their 2014/2015 school year on 24 August due to the use of UNRWA schools as shelters. It will take time and resources to return to a formal education environment.”

More than 20,000 homes are estimated to have been rendered uninhabitable. Vital water and sanitation infrastructure has been damaged, with at least 40 per cent of the water supply network unusable as of 22 August.

As of last night, 289,109 IDPs took refuge in 85 UNRWA schools. The total number of IDPs supported by UNRWA increased to 324,122, including 35,013 IDPs sheltered in government facilities.

UNRWA’s regular food distribution to a total caseload of over 830,000 beneficiaries continued. Food rations were provided to 3,913 families through UNRWA distribution centers.”

14 of 21 health centers were operating. 86 per cent of the staff reported to work, and 16,223 patients were served on 25 August.

Data on damage to UNRWA installations is based on preliminary information and subject to change based on further verification. UNRWA estimates that 110 installations have been damaged since 8 July 2014.

Full Report:

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