UN Flash Update: Escalations of Hostilities (12 May 2021)

Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): Flash Update #2 Escalation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel as of 17:00, 12 May 2021

  • Violence and hostilities in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank continue at high intensity.
  • In response to the continued launching of hundreds of rockets and mortar shells into Israel by Hamas militants, Israeli forces have carried out extensive airstrikes and shelling across Gaza. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, clashes continue to take place between Palestinians and Israeli forces. Civil disturbance has also been reported within Israel.
  • Over fifty Palestinians have reportedly been killed since 10 May in Gaza and over 320 injured. Extensive damage is reported to residential and commercial buildings as well as to schools. Three Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces and hundreds were injured overnight. In Israel, six people have been killed in rocket attacks and hundreds have been injured.
  • The escalation risks worsening an already poor humanitarian situation, especially in Gaza, where the struggling health sector is further burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaza’s sole power plant might shut down by the end of this week due to lack of fuel, undermining the provision of vital services.

 

SITUATION OVERVIEW

According to the health authorities in Gaza, as of 17:00 on 12 May, fifty-three Palestinians have been killed, including 14 children and three women, and 320 people have been wounded since the start of the escalation on 10 May. According to Israeli officials, Israeli forces have targeted members of Palestinian armed groups, who are among the casualties, with some of the fatalities confirmed by the groups themselves.

Israeli airstrikes and shelling have hit houses and apartment buildings. In some of these properties, residents report receiving prior warning to evacuate from callers identifying themselves as members of Israeli security forces. The Hanadi Building in Gaza city, a 14-storey structure containing residential and office units, was destroyed, and three other multi-storey buildings in the city were hit and severely damaged. Over 350 housing units have been destroyed or damaged, and hundreds of others have sustained moderate damages. Numerous families have been displaced, with an estimated 1,750 people affected.

Seven factories, eight schools and a health centre have also been damaged by Israeli airstrikes and shortfalls of Hamas launched rockets. In addition, scores of military sites, police and security facilities, as well as open areas, have been hit, with the police headquarters in Gaza city destroyed. Generally, the population is fearful and many in a state of panic and hostilities continue at high intensity. Street, markets and shops remain closed and traffic is limited to emergency teams.

The Israeli authorities have kept the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings closed and still forbid any fishing off Gaza’s coast. The Rafah crossing and Salah Ad Din gate with Egypt are closed due to the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.

According to the Israeli authorities, Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have fired over 1,200 rockets and mortar shells into Israel since the current round of hostilities began on 10 May, with a significant number landing short inside Gaza, suggesting that some of the casualties and damage in Gaza may have resulted from Palestinian fire. In Israel, Palestinian rocket fire killed five civilians, including three women and a girl; hundreds have been injured. An anti-tank missile that Palestinians fired from Gaza over the Israeli perimeter fence on 12 May killed an Israeli soldier and injured two others.

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, protests have continued in multiple locations, resulting in three fatalities and 624 injuries. During the night of 11 May, disturbances were again reported in Al Aqsa, the Damascus Gate area, Sheikh Jarrah and other parts of East Jerusalem, resulting in 122 injuries.

Civil disturbances within Israel have resulted in one fatality, multiple injuries and property damage, especially in ‘mixed cities.’

 

INTERNATIONAL LAW

The Office of the High Commissioner for human Rights (OHCHR) has called on Israeli forces to “allow and ensure the exercise of the right to freedoms of expression, association and assembly. No force should be used against those exercising their rights peacefully. When use of force is necessary, itshould comply fully with international human rights standards. This includes the prohibition of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force.” OHCHR furthersaid that Israel must “refrain from punitive measures, such as additional closures and restrictions that punish the entire civilian population of Gaza.”

 

HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE & ONGOING NEEDS

Protection

West Bank, including East Jerusalem: Cluster partners are monitor and documenting suspected violations and providing legal aid and child protection services as well as mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS).

Gaza: Cluster partners continues to assess the impact of the escalation on vulnerable groups and foresees the need for expanded mental health services. Many people reportedly experience fear and panic. UNMAS continuesto inform people of the risks associated with explosive remnant of war (ERW) to reduce secondary injuries when they clear debris.

 

Health

West Bank, including East Jerusalem: The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) and the East Jerusalem Hospital Network continue providing injured people with first aid and further treatment. New cases of physical attacks, harassment and prevention of access for healthcare workers, paramedics and ambulances are reported. 3

Gaza: The Health system, already overwhelmed by the longstanding COVID-19 pandemic, is significantly overstretched. The health authorities have circulated lists of medical items to support emergency response. Shortage of electricity still affects some healthcare facilities. UNRWA kept its clinics closed today, for security considerations.

 

Shelter

Gaza: At least 18 buildings have been destroyed and over 350 houses have been damaged. The Ministry of Social Development has shared a list of 500 displaced families and of 500 additional families who were otherwise affected and now need bedding kits and rent allowances.

 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Gaza: The North Gaza Seawater Desalination Plant has stopped operating due to the risk to workers and a damaged electrical supply line, affecting the access of about 250,000 people to drinking water. The shortage of electricity still affects Gaza WASH facilities, including water wells and reservoirs and wastewater treatment plants. Operators cannot access some WASH facilities safely.

 

Education

West Bank, including East Jerusalem: Schools in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are closed for the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr from 11 to 15 May. Should the situation further escalate, they may not reopen. MHPSS interventions and the monitoring of education-related violations will be scaled up in the coming days.

Gaza: Eight schools and one higher education facility have been affected so far. Partners are scaling up distance learning support, remote MHPSS interventions, delivery of emergency education supplies to children who lost their homes, and will start resource mobilization to rehabilitate damaged education facilities.

 

Food Security

Gaza: The World Food Programme (WFP) is monitoring the prices and availability of goods in the markets. The stock of basic food commodities is reportedly sufficient for two months. Markets and shops are closed, and various shops were reportedly damaged, including some contracted for WFP e-vouchers. The Ministry of Social Development has shared a list of 500 displaced families and of 500 additional families who were otherwise affected and now need food baskets and cash subsidies. WFP is ready to provide 160,000 affected families with one-time voucher and support Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with inkind food assistance parcels.