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Israel and Palestine: Gaza

Volume 685: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.[HL7523]

The humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories remains difficult, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians in Gaza receive only six to eight hours of electricity and two to three hours of water every day. Israeli Defence Force (IDF) incursions and air strikes continue. Palestinian homemade rockets are still being fired into Israel. Gaza's border crossings with Israel and Egypt have been mainly closed since late June, except for imports of basic supplies. DfID is keeping close track of the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza through the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

With technical assistance from DfID, UN OCHA is producing a monthly Humanitarian Monitor report. According to the most recent report, poverty in Gaza now stands at 79 per cent, marginally up from 77 per cent a year ago. However, among families that depend on salaries or payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA) poverty has risen from 42 per cent to 49 per cent in the past year. Average food prices in August were 9.95 per cent higher than in July. Hospitals and health centres in Gaza continue to function, although at reduced capacity. Fourteen per cent of essential drugs are out of stock. More than 80 Palestinian homes and structures were destroyed, with 61 Palestinians killed and 146 injured in Israeli military activity during August. Internal violence among Palestinians caused 12 additional deaths and 55 injuries. Homemade Palestinian rockets injured 10 Israelis. The monthly Humanitarian Monitor is available at

DfID has made up to £12 million available to meet Palestinian basic needs through the temporary international mechanism. Also, £9 million has been allocated to specific programmes to provide, first, essential medicines and health supplies; secondly, operations, maintenance and repair costs for water, sanitation and electricity services; and, thirdly, income for the poorest Palestinian government workers, including teachers, who have suffered a severe loss in income over recent months. DfID has also provided £15 million to support Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the wider region, though the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.