OCHA flash update 71
As always, paragraphs starting with a "-" are direct quotes. Where this is absent I am summarising information from the update. Other sources are linked in the text.
- The shutdown of telecommunications and internet services in Gaza, which started on 14 December, continues as of midnight on 16 December. This marks the fifth blackout since 7 October. As a result, this Flash Update provides limited updated information about the humanitarian situation in Gaza over the past 24 hours.
Hostilities and casualties
- Since 14 December afternoon, the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza has not updated its casualty figures, which stood at 18,787 fatalities. About 70 per cent of those killed are said to be women and children. As of then, about 50,589 Palestinians have been injured, according to MoH. Many people are missing, presumably buried under the rubble, waiting for rescue or recovery.
- Areas encompassing nearly 30 per cent of the Gaza Strip (excluding the orders to evacuate the areas north of Wadi Gaza) have been marked for evacuation on the Israeli military’s online map that was launched on 1 December. Access to this information is impaired by recurrent interruptions in telecommunications and the lack of electricity.
- Since 3 December, tens of thousands of IDPs, who have arrived in Rafah governorate continue to face extremely overcrowded conditions both inside and outside shelters. With an estimated fourfold increase in population density, exceeding 12,000 people per square kilometre, Rafah governorate is now the most densely populated area within the Gaza Strip.
- Obtaining an accurate figure of the total number of IDPs remains challenging. According to UNRWA, almost 1.9 million people in Gaza, or nearly 85 per cent of the population, are estimated to be internally displaced, including people who have been displaced multiple times.
Electricity is still cut off and has been since 11 October.
- Currently, only eight out of 36 hospitals across the Gaza Strip are functional and able to admit new patients, although services are limited. Only one of these hospitals is in the north, according to WHO. The two major hospitals in southern Gaza are operating at three times their bed capacity, while facing critical shortages of basic supplies and fuel. According to the MoH in Gaza, occupancy rates are now reaching 206 per cent in inpatient departments and 250 per cent in intensive care units. Additionally, these hospitals are providing shelter to thousands of IDPs.
WHO delivered health supplied to Al-Shifa hospital
on 16 December.
Once the most important and largest referral hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa now houses only a handful of doctors and a few nurses, together with 70 volunteers, working under what WHO staff described as “unbelievably challenging circumstances,” and calling it a “hospital in need of resuscitation.” The operating theatres and other major services remain nonfunctional due to lack of fuel, oxygen, specialized medical staff, and supplies. The hospital is only able to provide basic trauma stabilization, has no blood for transfusion, and hardly any staff to care for the constant flow of patients. Dialysis is being provided to approximately 30 patients a day, with the dialysis machines operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using a small generator.
The team described the emergency department as a “bloodbath”, with hundreds of injured patients inside, and new patients arriving every minute. Patients with trauma injuries were being sutured on the floor, and limited to no pain management is available at the hospital. WHO staff said that the emergency department is so full that care must be exercised to not step on patients on the floor. Critical patients are being transferred to Al-Ahli Arab Hospital for surgeries.
Tens of thousands of displaced people are using the hospital building and grounds for shelter. A multi-pronged humanitarian response is needed to provide them with food, water and shelter.
- On 16 December, Israeli forces withdrew from Kamal Adwan hospital after four days of besieging the facility. According to initial reports by media and video footage, an Israeli military bulldozer flattened the tents of a number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) outside the hospital, killing and wounding an unconfirmed number of people. The MoH in Ramallah has called for an investigation into the incident. According to the Israeli army, it has detained 90 people, and found weapons and munitions inside the hospital.
has more information on this. Israeli forces are accused of crushing Palestinians using bulldozers in the hospital yard.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera that civilians were deliberately targeted.
“People were buried alive using bulldozers. Who could do that? All those who committed this crime should be brought to justice and taken to the international criminal court,” a witness said.
[Health Minister al-Kaila] also highlighted that the Israeli army destroyed the southern part of the hospital, and said 12 infants remain inside the incubators in the hospital without water or food.
- Between 3 and 12 December, WFP conducted a rapid food security assessment, following the significant deterioration of the food security situation in the south of Gaza, following the large influx of IDPs with the resumption of hostilities on 1 December. Very severe hunger levels were reported in 44 per cent of respondent households, compared with 24 per cent in a previous assessment conducted on 27-30 November
. The proportion of IDP households reporting members going to sleep hungry at night increased from 34 to 50 per cent of all assessed households. The acute shortage of cooking gas has led to heavy dependence on firewood, wood residues, and waste burning, raising the risk of respiratory diseases. The food security situation in the northern governorates of Gaza is believed to be significantly worse. [my emphasis]
is reporting that a US intelligence report has found that nearly half of the air-to-ground munitions used by Israel in Gaza have been unguided.
The assessment, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and described to CNN by three sources who have seen it, says that about 40-45% of the 29,000 air-to-ground munitions Israel has used have been unguided. The rest have been precision-guided munitions, the assessment says.
experts told CNN that if Israel is using unguided munitions at the rate the US believes they are, that undercuts the Israeli claim that they are trying to minimize civilian casualties.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that as of yesterday
that they have been able to confirm the deaths of 64 journalists and media workers. They also have reports of 13 journalists injured, 3 missing and 19 arrested.
Earlier this week the Guardian
reported that International journalists are increasingly frustrated at the ban on entering Gaza.
Some international journalists have embedded with the IDF inside Gaza since 7 October. However, the IDF has forbidden contact with Palestinians on the ground and has insisted that reports be submitted for review before publication or broadcast.
Secunder Kermani, foreign correspondent for Channel 4 News, who has been covering the war since its start, said: “It’s hugely frustrating not to be able to document first-hand the awful scenes in Gaza. Of course there are many Palestinian journalists doing crucial and dangerous work, either producing powerful reports themselves or providing us with material.
“Everything in this war is so contested, being able to access Gaza independently would allow us to delve more deeply into the many competing claims and counter-claims, as well to get a better understanding of the internal dynamics within Gaza right now.
Cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa was killed by a drone strike on Friday and Al Jazeera
is preparing to take the case to the international criminal court.
The French foreign ministry says of their workers died in an attack on homes in Rafah. Reuters
The man was seeking refuge in the house of a colleague from the French consulate alongside two other co-workers and a number of their family members, the ministry statement issued late on Saturday said.
"The house was hit by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday evening, which seriously hurt our agent and killed ab
out 10 others," it said, adding he had later died of his wounds.
The statement said France condemned the bombing of a residential building.
"We demand that the Israeli authorities shed full light on the circumstances of this bombing, as soon as possible," it said.
Snipers have killed two women inside Gaza church, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. CNN
The majority of Christian families inside Gaza have taken refuge inside the parish since the start of the war, the patriarchate said in a statement.
The two women, described as a mother and daughter, were walking to the Sister’s Convent, the patriarchate said. “One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety,” it added.
Seven others were also shot and wounded in the attack.
“No warning was given, no notification was provided,” the statement continued.
“They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the parish, where there are no belligerents.”
The patriarchate said that IDF tanks had also targeted the Convent of the Sisters of Mother Theresa, which houses 54 disabled people and is part of the church’s compound. The building’s generator, its only current source of electricity, as well as its fuel resources, solar panels and water tanks were also destroyed.
MP Layla Moran says her relatives
are among those trapped in the church,
The Liberal Democrat says her family are "days away from dying" without access to water or food.
Members of Ms Moran's extended family - a grandmother, her son, his wife and their 11-year-old twins - are Christian Palestinians who sought refuge inside the church after their home was bombed in the first week of the war.
They have been staying on mattresses along with dozens of others in rooms in the Holy Family Church for more than 60 days.
"I'm now no longer sure they are going to survive until Christmas," Ms Moran told the BBC.
They have been keeping in touch with Ms Moran and other family members sporadically through WhatsApp messages and calls - though they have no internet and power is intermittent.
A sixth member of the family - a grandfather - died last month after not being able to get to hospital to receive medical treatment, Ms Moran says.
The five remaining members say they now no longer have access to food or water, and the last remaining generator - which was pumping water from wherever they could get it - has stopped working in the church.
They say soldiers entered the church compound in the last 24 hours and took over a room in a building.
Ms Moran says there has been no explanation as to why Israeli soldiers would target the church and no warnings or leaflets were sent to people sheltering there.