“At this time, it appears the ceasefire is being respected by both sides of the conflict”, says Laurent Palustran, HI country manager for the Palestinian Territories.
After 11 days of violence resulted in 254 deaths and over 2,600 injuries reported by the United Nations, HI’s office in Gaza officially reopened yesterday. The 58 UNWRA schools that were sheltering over 77,000 internally displaced persons are slowly emptying as people return to their homes and reunite with family members.
However, many are still left without homes, as 1,042 housing and commercial units were destroyed, with another 769 severely damaged.
“There is an enormous need for reconstruction right now,” says Laurent. “HI has experience in building homes and adapting them for people with disabilities, so we’re preparing to provide reconstruction support.”
Assess the needs
HI teams have continued to assess the needs of the affected population, identifying at least 1,045 vulnerable people as being in need of aid and assistaive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, canes and adapted toilets. HI has already begun distribution of these items over the past few days.
Given the difficulty of the situation, where thousands of people have lost all belongings and essentials, HI has also distributed hygiene kits including soap, detergent and disinfectant. Teams are preparing to replenish the materials to meet further need.
“With the ceasefire in place,” says Laurent, “we can take the first steps towards healing.”
Following school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic and damage to 54 education centres from the recent conflict, schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. HI has expressed concern for the significant gap in schooling this presents, and plans to focus on providing access to education and inclusion in the coming years for local children, particularly those with disabilities.
Damage to infrastructure related to water, sanitation and electricity has left the population with limited access to essentials such as power and drinking water. Priority repairs have improved these operations over the past few days, but key power and desalination plants are still only operating at partial capacity.
 Escalation in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel | Flash Update (24 May, 2021). United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Occupied Palestinian Territory.