Facts and Figures since beginning of Gaza invasion
Palestinian National Initiative
Ramallah 12 July 2006
A press conference given today by Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP at the Palestine Media Centre in Al Bireh highlighted the extent of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, through a presentation of facts and figures on the invasion so far.
Dr. Barghouthi was in Gaza for 19 days from June 17 and was present when Israel’s re-invasion of the Strip began on the night of 28 June. His presentation addressed the following issues:
- Palestinians killed between 28 June-13 July : 97
- Palestinians injured between 28 June-13 July : 242
- Israelis killed between 28 June-13 July: 2, including 1 soldier killed by friendly fire in the Gaza Strip
- Israeli soldiers captured: 1 in Gaza Strip
- Artillery shells fired by Israeli tanks, 28 June-3 July : 584
- Artillery shells fired by Israeli gunboats, 28 June-4 July : 6
- Air strikes conducted by Israel, 28 June-12 July : 120
- Homemade rockets‚ fired by Palestinians towards Israel, 28 June-12 July :127
Collective Punishment & Severe Humanitarian Crisis
Gaza’s only electrical power plant was destroyed in an air strike on 28 June. As a result, the entire Gazan population has been left with only intermittent power supplied by the Israel Electric Company, and insufficient, costly generators which are becoming increasingly difficult to find on the local market. Repairs to Gaza’s electrical plant will take between 6-8 months to complete. In addition, the opening of the only Israeli-run fuel pipeline into Gaza is sporadic, limiting the amount of fuel available to power generators.
Water, sanitation and public health
In that Gaza’s water and sewage systems depend entirely on electricity to power water and sewage pumps, the lack of electricity has critically affected water supplies and sewage systems, which are now reliant on insufficient generators to remain partially functional. Underground water pipes have also been damaged by the weight of heavy tanks & Armoured Personnel Carriers.
300,000 of Gaza’s 1.4 million inhabitants living in high-rise apartment buildings are experiencing water shortages due to a lack of electricity to pump water up to their homes. Sporadic access to water supplies means that ordinary Gazans are unable to meet their everyday needs related to drinking water, personal hygiene and washing clothes.
In addition, the Gaza Municipality has run out of fuel for its garbage trucks. As such, no garbage has been collected since 9 July. Gaza‚s streets are now filled with piles of rotting debris, posing serious public health concerns. WHO has already reported that the cases of watery and bloody diarrhoea amongst refugees for the last week of June and the first week of July have increased by
163% and 140% respectively compared to the same period last year.
3 bridges and a main road linking north, central and southern Gaza were destroyed in Israeli air strikes on 28 June. Gaza is now cut into two and movement between the north, centre and south has been obstructed, with serious implications for the ability of emergency health services to reach patients and injured persons.
Rising deaths and injuries as a result of the Israeli invasion have placed further pressure on hospital services, already critically affected by external funding cuts since January 2006. Electricity cuts have seriously weakened the capacity of hospitals to maintain service provision and hospitals are now reliant on costly back-up generators. The fuel supplies of hospital and primary healthcare centres are only expected to last a further 1-2 weeks.
Continuous power is required for the preservation of vaccine cold chain items, food for patients, and emergency operations. Operating theatres have already reduced functions due to lack of
electricity and medical supplies. Israeli border closures have also meant that there are shortages of basic drugs, disposable equipment, and diagnostic materials.
939 Gazans evacuated from their homes during the siege of the Al Shouka area of eastern Rafah are now staying in 2 UNRWA schools which are being used as shelters. A further 190 families have approached these schools to receive food supplies as the area has been prevented from receiving humanitarian supplies due to the presence of the Israeli military in the area.
Rafah Crisis and Prolonged border closures
All entry and exit points to Gaza have been virtually sealed by Israel since a Palestinian attack on an Israeli military target in the Strip on 25 June. This has led to a severe crisis at the Rafah crossing, where up to 5,000 Palestinians, including 33 patients who underwent medical treatment in Egypt, have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border since then. 5 people have already died, including a 70-year-old man, a 15-year-old boy, a 19-year-old woman, an 18-month-old baby, and a 27-year-old woman.
Additionally, hundreds of chronically ill patients, including cancer and heart patients requiring essential life-saving medical treatment unavailable in Gaza have been unable to leave.
Virtually no humanitarian supplies have entered the Gaza Strip since 7 July. Families are now buying food on a daily basis due to the lack of electricity to power fridges and freezers. Wheat flour mills grinding flour for bread are running on generators, but only have fuel to last further 2-3 days. The availability of fish, which provides up to one third of protein intake in Gaza, has been restricted due to the presence of Israeli military vessels in Gazan waters and the lack of refrigeration facilities.
Israel resumed its sonic boom campaign on 28 June 2006. Between 28 June and 4 July, there were 25 sonic booms caused by Israeli war planes breaking the sound barrier at low altitudes. There are approximately 3-4 booms each night, causing widespread anxiety and distress to families, especially young children. Sonic booms have been directly related to the rising number of miscarriages and premature births in the Gaza Strip.
Dr. Barghouthi also highlighted the fact that Israeli military action in the West Bank has continued unabated, and that since May 2006 there have been:
691 raids, resulting in:
• 39 Palestinian casualties
• 1 assassination
• 145 injuries
• 461 kidnappings, 37 of whom are children, 27 of whom are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), and 8 of whom are cabinet ministers
One minister and 3 PLC members also had their Jerusalem residency cards revoked, including those of their families and children.
Dr. Barghouthi ended the presentation by addressing the issue of unbalanced media coverage of the Gaza crisis, and the terminology and narratives adopted by news agencies. He cited the example of the use of the terms “hostage” and “kidnapped”‚ in relation to Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, while Palestinian parliamentarians being held under Israeli detention without charge are referred to as “prisoners”.
He also stressed that sustained Israeli attacks on Gaza in the months leading up to the invasion illustrate that the current crisis was not sparked off by Shalit’s capture. Between 29 March and 27 June, Israel conducted 112 air strikes on, and fired 4,751 artillery shells into the Gaza Strip. A total of 65 Gazans were killed between 3 May and 27 June, including at least 34 civilians, 12 of whom were children and 5 of whom were women.