The open-ended ceasefire which entered into force on 26 August continues to hold. The scale of damage resulting from the 50-day escalation in hostilities is unprecedented since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967. All governorates in Gaza witnessed extensive aerial bombardment, naval shelling and artillery fire, resulting in the widespread loss of life and livelihoods. Damage to public infrastructure was also unprecedented, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without adequate services, including electricity, clean water and quality healthcare. Data on fatalities and destruction of property is consolidated by the Protection and Shelter clusters based on preliminary information, and is subject to change based on further verification.
The Gaza Power Plant (GPP) remains inoperable following an Israeli airstrike on 29 July and despite extensive repairs, electricity outages of 18 hours a day continue in most areas across Gaza. Extensive damage to the water and wastewater system means that 20 to 30 per cent of households, or 450,000 people, remain unable to access municipal water due to damage and/or low pressure. Following the ceasefire there was a steep decline in the number of internally displaced persons, but figures have gradually risen again in UNRWA shelters, and an estimated 110,000 are still displaced, including with host families. Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) are a major protection concern and pose a risk to those returning to their homes and involved in repair and reconstruction activities.
The majority of the Gaza population has lost its productive assets. According to the Palestinian Federation of Industries, 419 businesses and workshops were damaged, with 128 completely destroyed. With limited activity at the commercial crossings and extensive damage to private infrastructure and other productive assets, business activities were largely paralyzed during the operation. Hostilities forced farmers and herders to abandon their lands, and resulted in substantial direct damage to Gaza's 17,000 hectares of croplands as well as much of its agricultural infrastructure, including greenhouses, irrigation systems, animal farms, fodder stocks and fishing boats. Access to the sea was also prohibited for most of the 50 days of hostilities; restrictions have been restored to the six nautical mile limit, but there have been reports of shooting at, and detaining, fishermen in recent days, reportedly for exceeding this limit.
These losses come on top of an already fragile economy and livelihoods. Around 66 per cent of the population of Gaza was receiving food assistance prior to the crisis and the household food insecurity level or vulnerable to food insecure stood at 72 per cent of households. Unemployment has increased dramatically since mid-2013, following a halt of the illegal tunnel trade with Egypt, soaring from 28 per cent in the third quarter (Q3) of 2013 to 45 per cent in Q2 2014; almost 70 per cent of the youth aged 20-24 were unemployed in Gaza in Q2 2014. It is expected that labour market conditions in Gaza will further deteriorate following the conflict, exacerbating the impact of the blockade and the longstanding access restrictions imposed by Israel which have been preventing any meaningful economic activity.
In addition to shelter solutions, the main priority for humanitarian agencies continues to be the repair and reconstruction and the restoration of essential services to affected communities, which effectively means the entire population of the Gaza Strip. However, this will not be possible without a more permanent agreement that will allow for the entry of the materials needed to re-build homes, schools and hospitals, to repair roads, electricity lines and water and sanitation networks and bring about transformational change in Gaza.