Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of about two million Palestinians in that area. Many of the restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a blockade. These restrictions continue to reduce access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. Between 9 July and 14 August, Israel significantly tightened its restrictions on imports to Gaza and banned the exit of all goods, reportedly in response to the launching of incendiary kites from Gaza into Israel, which has caused extensive property damage. Since 19 August, citing continued violent incidents at the fence, Israel has intermittently imposed additional restrictions at Erez Crossing, the only passenger crossing between Gaza and the West Bank, which is already off limits to most Palestinians.
The Gaza Strip faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, impacting the livelihoods and access to essential services by its two million residents. This crisis has been driven by over 11 years of an Israeli blockade and an unsolved internal Palestinian divide, exacerbated since March 2018 by the massive increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of demonstrations taking place near Israel’s perimeter fence, as well as limited escalations in hostilities. The following indicators were identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to monitor the crisis, trigger humanitarian action and prevent further deterioration.
Friday demonstrations and clashes near Israel’s perimeter fence around Gaza continued, resulting in three Palestinians killed, including two children, and 666 injured by Israeli forces. On two occasions during demonstrations that took place on 7 September, east of Rafah, Israeli forces shot with live ammunition two 16 years-old boys, who were in close proximity to the fence, killing one of them, and severely injuring the other, who died of wounds sustained the following day. Initial investigations and video footage suggest that none of the children were armed or threatened the lives of the Israeli forces. Since 30 March 2018, 31 children have been killed by Israeli forces, the majority whilst participating in the demonstrations. Of the people injured during the period, 260 were hospitalized, including 172 people hit by live ammunition; the rest were treated in the field. No Israeli casualties were reported. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns since the beginning of the demonstrations
Israeli authorities lift recent restrictions on Kerem Shalom but additional restrictions imposed at Erez Crossing. UN emergency fuel programme for essential health and WASH services in Gaza about to run out. Pest that infects olive trees expected to significantly reduce this year’s harvest in West Bank
This month’s Bulletin is again devoted to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, except for one article dealing with the upcoming olive harvest in the West Bank. Between 9 July and 15 August, the Israeli authorities tightened the blockade on Gaza, severely restricting the movement of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel, and reducing the permissible fishing area by sea to three nautical miles. According to the Israeli authorities, the tightened restrictions were adopted in response to security incidents along the fence and the launching of incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza, which have resulted in extensive property damage in Israel. Only food, medical supplies and animal fodder were allowed to enter into Gaza, while the exit of goods was entirely banned. The restrictions further undermined the already devastated economy, which in the second quarter of 2018 recorded the highest unemployment rate ever recorded in the Gaza Strip: 53.7 per cent.
Since 30 March 2018, Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip have increased significantly due to the mass demonstrations taking place along the perimeter fence with Israel and, to a lesser extent, hostilities and other incidents.
Between 9 July and 15 August, the Israeli authorities severely tightened restrictions on the movement of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel, and further reduced the area permitted for fishing at sea from six/nine to three nautical miles. According to the Israeli authorities, these measures were in response to the launching of incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza into Israel that have resulted in extensive property damage. In May, over the course of the demonstrations, the crossing was set on fire and damaged twice by demonstrators, and closed for a few days on each occasion.
The 2018 olive harvest season will last approximately from mid-September to mid-November. However, a pest that infects olive trees, particularly in the norther West Bank, is expected to significantly reduce this year’s yield compared with 2017 (see box). In recent years, the olive harvest has also been affected negatively by Israeli settlers stealing or damaging olive trees, and by restrictions on access by Palestinian farmers to olive groves behind the Barrier and near Israeli settlements.
Since 30 March 2018, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of mass demonstrations taking place along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza and hostilities. The large number of casualties among unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including a high percentage of demonstrators hit by live ammunition, has raised concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli troops. Despite significant assistance provided, Gaza's health sector is struggling to cope with the mass influx of casualties, due to years of blockade, the internal divide and a chronic energy crisis, which have left essential services in Gaza barely able to function.
This week, final stocks of emergency fuel will be delivered to critical facilities in the Gaza Strip, through the United Nations-Assisted Emergency Fuel Program. The Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, has written to the donor community requesting immediate support for the program, which provides life-saving emergency fuel to operate standby emergency power generators at critical health centers, and water and sanitation facilities in the Gaza Strip. Funds donated thus far in 2018 have been depleted.