Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel | Flash Update #66

Teams preparing for the establishment a field hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza. The Qatari field hospital is set to have a capacity of 50 beds, an operating room, intensive care unit, reception, and radiology services. Separately, with facilities for displaced people being overcrowded, thousands of people have relocated to this site. Photo: Palestine Red Crescent Society

Key points

  • Between the afternoons of 10 and 11 December, 208 Palestinians were killed and another 416 were injured, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. Heavy Israeli bombardments from air, land, and sea across Gaza continued, especially in the central part, including Al Maghazi and An Nuseirat Refugee Camps, as well as in parts of northern Gaza. Meanwhile, intense ground operations and fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups continued, especially in Khan Younis, Jabalya, and the northern parts of Gaza Strip. Additionally, air strikes have reportedly targeted residential homes in the western and central parts of Rafah, areas designated as safe for displaced Palestinians by the Israeli army. The firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups into Israel also continued.
  • On 11 December, the maternity department at Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, north of Gaza, was hit. As a result, two mothers were reportedly killed, and several people were injured. The hospital remains surrounded by Israeli troops and tanks, and fighting with armed groups has been reported in its vicinity for three consecutive days. The hospital is currently accommodating 65 patients, including 12 children in the intensive care unit (ICU) and six newborns in incubators. About 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain trapped in the facility and are awaiting evacuation with extreme shortages of water, food and power reported.
  • On 11 December, the Israeli military has again been calling and exerting pressure on Palestinian residents who have remained north of Wadi Gaza to leave southwards through a “corridor” along the main traffic artery, Salah Ad Deen Road, between 9:00 and 16:00. However, movement through the Salah Ad Deen areas located north and east of Khan Younis city, has reportedly experienced intense battles on the road.
  • Tens of thousands of IDPs, who have arrived in Rafah (in the south) since 3 December, continue to face extremely overcrowded conditions both inside and outside shelters. Large crowds wait for hours around aid distribution centres, in desperate need of food, water, shelter, health, and protection. In the absence of an adequate number of latrines, open-air defecation is widespread, increasing concerns of the spread of disease, particularly during rains and related flooding.
  • Limited aid distributions are taking place in Rafah governorate. In the rest of the Gaza Strip, aid distribution has largely stopped over the past few days, due to the intensity of hostilities and restrictions of movement along the main roads, except for limited fuel deliveries to key service providers and a one-off high-risk mission on 9 December to Al Ahli hospital.
  • On 11 December, as of 22:00, 100 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Egypt, the same volume recorded on most days since the resumption of hostilities on 1 December. This is well below the daily average of 500 truckloads (including fuel) that entered every working day prior to 7 October. The ability of the UN to receive incoming aid has been significantly impaired over the past few days by several factors. These include a shortage of trucks within Gaza; the continuing lack of fuel; telecommunications blackouts; and the increasing number of staff who were unable to travel to the Rafah crossing due to the intensity of hostilities.
  • On 11 December, some 120,600 litres of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt, up from a daily average of 67,000 litres on the previous three days. The increased amounts are the bare minimum needed to prevent the collapse of critical services, including hospitals and ambulances, water, and sanitation infrastructures, and IDP shelters. Additionally, on 11 December, 45 tonnes of commercial cooking gas entered from Egypt, the first such delivery since the resumption of hostilities on 1 December.
  • On 11 December, 33 injured people and 461 dual nationals were evacuated from Gaza to Egypt, bringing the total number of wounded Palestinians and medical cases who have been evacuated since 7 October to 463 and 530 respectively.
  • On 12 December, the World Health Organization (WHO) executive board unanimously adopted a resolution addressing the dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, which emphasized health as a universal priority and called for immediate, unimpeded aid deliveries. In his opening remarks to the session, the WHO Director-General reported that “Gaza’s health system is on its knees and collapsing, with the risk expected to worsen with the deteriorating situation and approaching winter conditions.”
  • On 9 and 10 December, in the north and Gaza city, Israeli forces reportedly detained hundreds of men and boys staying in public spaces, schools serving as shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as private homes. Reportedly, detainees were stripped to their underwear, handcuffed, and were ordered to sit on their knees in open areas, subjected to beatings, harassment, harsh weather, and denial of basic necessities. They were filmed and the images were circulated over the media. According to the Israeli military, those suspected of affiliation with Hamas were transferred to Israel for interrogation, while others have been released.
  • On 11 December, several Security Council envoys travelled to the Egyptian side of Rafah Crossing, the only open entry point into the Gaza Strip. They were briefed on the situation in Gaza and the humanitarian response. This visit, which was organized by the United Arab Emirates, comes days after the UN Secretary-General had invoked article 99 of the UN Charter, warning the Council of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.
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