Update on Gaza from Department of Services to Palestinian Refugess (DSPR)
Our sources on the ground inform that the devastation and damage resulting from the ongoing Israeli military activities is increasing. The damage to infrastructure is especially large and it is hard at this time to estimate the level and cost of reconstruction needed after the violence subsides. In terms of support to the affected population, with 80% unemployment in Gaza and the fact that all banks and financial institutions remain to be closed, there is no liquidity or cash being circulated around. The economic cycle has completely stopped and every single family is in need of some form of support, be it food, water, shelter or money. In terms of statistics and estimates, as the violence is ongoing we cannot at this stage give an accurate financial estimate of the needed intervention.
There is a deep concern as to the effect this war will have on the psychological state of children in Gaza. There is a grave demand for social workers, psychological specialists, and other human resources in this particular field. The children of Gaza have been introduced to scenes of death, blood, demolitions, family loss, injuries, and the general climate of fear and confusion. The feeling of insecurity, especially when the parents seem to be helpless in easing the fears and concerns of their children, might have a permanent effect on the development of the traumatized child’s personality. Our three clinics in Gaza do not have such specialists that are based on a permanent basis and that can tend to those in need of some help. It would be extremely helpful if in each clinic there is a skilled and well-trained specialist that can be present at least for a period of six months after the violence stops. Previously, the clinics were working in association with other local institutions that specialize in psycho-social intervention and that offer lectures, trainings and open sessions to the public, however, today there is a demand for specialists that can deal with individual concerns and problems on a daily basis.
There are on average six workers in each of our clinics in Gaza. The staff includes staff nurses, midwives, pharmacists, lab specialists, and service specialists. Each staff nurse is well-trained and well-educated with three years of studies and midwives with four years of studies. The clinics are well-equipped to operate as emergency rooms once the situation calms down. Currently, heavy fighting and bombardment is taking shape in the close vicinity of each of the clinics, which renders them inoperative.
Palestinian NGOs, the Red Cross and UN organizations:
UNRWA has suspended all forms of aid operations and delivery in protest of the latest Israeli attacks on its personnel. From what we were told, trucks containing flour and food have been targeted by the Israeli military, although there was constant coordination and communication between UNRWA and the Israeli army. As a result, the joint work between Palestinian NGOs and UNRWA is suspended and there are complaints that food and water is not reaching the entire affected population. Only CHF International has a list of names and families that it distributes food and flour to. The Red Cross has officially complained that the Israeli army is deliberately delaying ambulances and in some instances shooting and targeting Red Crescent workers. Relief workers found four starving children sitting next to the corpses of their mothers and others in a part of Gaza city bombed and isolated by the Israeli army.
Vocational Traning Centre:
The vocational training centre in Gaza has not been affected nor damaged by the bombardment, although there are reports of glass being shattered. The centre has suspended all forms of training as the students are living far from the centre and since transportation and movement is impossible at this time. The studying will resume once the situation allows.
Account from Father Manuel Musallam in Gaza:
We spoke with Father Musallam in Gaza and he sounded very tired. He informed us that the convent in the Zaytoun area was hit by shrapnel and that there are holes in the building. Also, the convent next to the camp (Deir Al-Rahbat) was also hit and some nuns were affected, and now both the Rosary Sisters and Mother Theresa Sisters have fled the Strip. There is a new Palestinian Christian fatality and the people are very anxious, tired and need water and electricity. Father Musallam told me that he was looking at his sister’s eyes this morning and all he could see is red. Bombardment is very close to where he is and he states that no one is used to such level of continuous hitting, according to him, the level of tolerance has been far reached. There are a few Christian homes that lost everything and he mentioned the girl that died of fear. The Christian man that died, his house was demolished while he was inside. Rosary sisters school was also hit and suffered some damage. In other areas, he says the economic situation is dire and one cannot buy the needed goods with comfort. He claims that the temporary daily truce is often breached by Israel, with sounds of bombardment being heard during that time.
Children fatalities thus far:
According to OCHA and the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 257 children have died so far with an increase of 250% since the ground operation began. Children constitute 56% of the Gazan population. Overall deaths have reached 758 and more than 3000 injured.
DSPR will come out with a daily statement on the humanitarian situation in Gaza as experienced and related by members, staff and beneficiaries of DSPR.