The humanitarian vulnerability of Palestinians, as a result of Israeli policies and practices regarding settlements, was exacerbated by a number of developments during January. On 26 January, Israeli settlers, reportedly from the settlement outpost of Adei-Ad, raided Al Mughayyir village near Ramallah, where they shot and killed a 38-year-old Palestinian man, and injured another nine. Israeli authorities have opened a criminal investigation of the case. In recent years, Al Mughayyir (some 3,000 residents) has been the target of systematic attacks and harassment from nearby settlements outposts, which have undermined the safety and livelihoods of the Palestinian residents. Although the approximately 100 settlements outposts throughout the West Bank have been established without official Israeli authorization or building permits, in December 2018, the government endorsed a bill to advance the retroactive “legalization” of 66 of these settlements (including Adei-Ad) within two years; in the interim period they would be provided with funding and services, alongside a freezing in the implementation of demolition orders.
Recent developments in East Jerusalem place an extended Palestinian refugee family from Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood at risk of imminent forced eviction, following a lengthy legal struggle with an Israeli settler organization. Thirty-two members of the Sabbagh family currently reside in the family home, including six children; at least 19 additional people would be affected by the loss of their family home. This eviction may amount to a forcible transfer, which is a grave breach of the fourth Geneva Convention. Forced evictions contrary to international law also violate the right to adequate housing and the right to privacy, and may be incompatible with other human rights.
In a positive development, as of 2 January 2019, for the first time since 2000, Israel has partially expanded the fishing limits up to 12 nautical miles (NM) in the middle area off the Gaza coast. However, access along the northern and southern areas continue to be restricted by Israel, citing security concerns, to six nautical miles (NM), well below the 20 NM agreed under the Oslo Accords. In addition to access restrictions, Palestinian fishers remain subject to significant protection concerns, with the number of fisher injuries and shooting incidents rising significantly in 2018.
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Ahmad, a 14-year-old Palestinian, was hit by live ammunition at Israel’s perimeter fence surrounding Gaza during one of the “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstrations in June 2018. He was injured in his right leg, close to the knee, and as a result he experienced difficulties in performing daily tasks, including walking and dressing by himself, and suffered depression. “I cried during the nights, because I wasn’t able to play with my friends,” he recalls.
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Israel exercises direct control over the 20 per cent of Hebron City, known as H2, which is home to approximately 40,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers living in five settlement compounds. Policies and practices implemented by the Israeli authorities, citing security concerns, have resulted in the forcible transfer of Palestinians from their homes in Hebron city, reducing a once thriving area to a ‘ghost town’. The living conditions of those Palestinians who remain in the closed and restricted areas have been gradually undermined, including with regard to basic services and sources of livelihood.
On 17 December 2018, the humanitarian community in the oPt launched the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2019, an appeal for $350 million to fund assistance and protection for 1.4 million Palestinians identified as the most vulnerable. This appeal is significantly smaller than the 2018 HRP (almost $540 million), despite the fact that the level of humanitarian need, particularly in the Gaza Strip, increased. As elaborated in this Bulletin, the reduction reflects an attempt to prioritize the most urgent needs in the face of record low funding levels during 2018 and ever greater challenges to the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate, along with a recognition that these constraints are not likely to improve in the foreseeable future.
About 2.5 million Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), or approximately half of the population, are identified as in need of humanitarian assistance and protection according to the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). Of these, 1.4 million, identified as the most vulnerable, are to be targeted in 2019 by a range of interventions outlined in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) at a total cost of US$350 million. The 2019 HRP was launched jointly by Jamie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator, with the Minister of Social Development of the State of Palestine, Dr. Ibrahim Al Shaer, in Ramallah on 17 December.
Attempts to delegitimize humanitarian and human rights organizations operating in the oPt, particularly NGOs, have been on the rise in recent years. This has a negative impact on the ability of these organisations to deliver assistance and advocate on behalf of Palestinian rights. The situation is further compounded by longstanding access restrictions imposed on humanitarian staff and operations, restrictive legislation and attacks on human rights defenders. The shrinking of the operational space available for humanitarian work as a result of these pressures has contributed to the reduction of the 2019 humanitarian appeal for the oPt.
The impact of violence and casualties incurred during Gaza’s Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations differs by sex due to social norms. Between May and June 2018, UNFPA carried out a rapid assessment to identify the specific impact of the GMR on Palestinian women and girls. It consisted of five focus discussions and ten in-depth structured interviews. Each focus group was composed of women who participated in or were directly affected by the demonstrations, along with female representatives of institutions providing social services to women.
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Miassar Zo’orb is a 48-year-old widowed mother who lives with four of her children in Khan Younis. She is the only breadwinner for her family, and her main income comes from humanitarian aid. Her home consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen and a living room, and it is footsteps away from the local waste dump.