occupied Palestinian territory: 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (January - December 2017)
OVERVIEW OF THE CRISIS
The major drivers of humanitarian vulnerability in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) remain unchanged. The oPt remains in the midst of a protracted occupation, now in its fiftieth year, accompanied by the systematic denial of Palestinian rights and continuing conflict. An estimated two million people are in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the oPt. In the Gaza Strip, years of blockade, imposed by Israel after the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, and recurrent outbreaks of hostilities have eroded basic infrastructure, service delivery, livelihoods and coping mechanisms. In the West Bank, continuing settlement expansion, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, and the lack of a horizon for ending the occupation are major sources of frustration and conflict. There has been no progress on the main political fronts, neither with regard to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations towards a realization of the twostate vision, or on the consolidation of a Palestinian Government of National Consensus (GNC), which will end the internal divide. A pervasive crisis of accountability continues, with no effective remedy for the vast majority of alleged violations of international law.
In the Gaza Strip, the August 2014 ceasefire has largely held and international support and some relaxation of import restrictions by the Israeli authorities led to highest level of imports since the imposition of the blockade and have resulted in progress in the rehabilitation of damaged health, education and WASH infrastructure. However, as demand exceeds level of allowed flow, as of September only 1,300 out of the totally destroyed 11,000 housing units have been reconstructed, with work on an additional 3,200 underway, and over 60,000 people remain displaced. Palestinian movement to and from Gaza has declined, affecting medical patients, business people and aid workers; less than half of the applications for local staff working with international organizations were approved in October, for example. Access restrictions have been exacerbated by the almost continuous closure of the Rafah passenger crossing by Egypt since October 2014.
The blockade imposed by Israel since 2007 and recurrent rounds of hostilities have inflicted large-scale destruction on Gaza’s infrastructure and productive assets while restrictions on the import of goods Israel considers as having a ‘dual’ military and civilian purpose continue to impede basic service delivery. Service delivery is also affected by the continuing non-payment of salaries by the Palestinian authorities to tens of thousands of public employees since April 2014, due to the internal political crisis within Palestine, and by the chronic electricity deficit.1 One million Palestinians in Gaza are now moderately-to-severely food insecure, even though many already receive food assistance or other forms of social transfers – resulting in low resilience and high vulnerability to shocks. Unemployment at 42 per cent, is more than twice as high as in the West Bank while youth unemployment in Gaza currently stands at 58 per cent. Although the economy in Gaza has expanded by 21 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 due to an upsurge in construction activity, the World Bank warns that in the event of a resumption of armed conflict, “the Gaza economy is expected to slip back into recession.
Palestinians in the West Bank continue to be subject to a complex system of physical and bureaucratic barriers, imposed by Israel citing security concerns, which restrict their right to freedom of movement, undermine livelihoods, and increase dependency on humanitarian aid.3 The expansion of settlements, illegal under international law, continued with a 40 per cent increase in new housing units in the first six months of 2016 compared to the previous six months. Conversely, there was a sharp increase in the number of Palestinianowned structures destroyed, dismantled or confiscated (804) by the Israeli authorities for lack of building permits in Area C – where the restrictive and discriminatory planning regime prevents Palestinian communities from building homes and infrastructure – and a corresponding increase in the number of Palestinians displaced as a result of these demolitions (1,133 to end-October). Palestinian Bedouin and herding communities across Area C, with a population estimated at 30,000, are also among those most at risk of forcible transfer, due to the coercive environment which they find themselves. The demolition rate in East Jerusalem in 2016 to end-October (150) is the highest since 2000 while the number of donor-funded, humanitarian assistance structures demolished or confiscated in 2016 to endOctober (274) is also unprecedented.
The wave of violence which erupted in October 2015 continued in 2016 resulting in 91 Palestinians killed and 3,222 injured by Israeli forces in the context of a reduced level of attacks/ alleged attacks, demonstrations and clashes to end- October. During the same period, 15 Israelis, were killed, and 163 injured by Palestinians. Refugee camps continue to be sites of concern: 77 search and arrest operations were conducted in refugee camps, with 23 adult and four child refugees and 309 adult and 67 child refugees in and around refugee camps up to end-October 2016.
More than 500 Palestinians have been shot and injured with live ammunition since the beginning of the year, including cases resulting in long-term disability. Security considerations notwithstanding, concerns remain over possible excessive use of force and extra-judicial executions by Israeli forces in their response to Palestinian attacks or suspected attacks as well as the lack of sufficient accountability regarding these cases. Also of concern is the continuous spreading of incitement to violence against Israelis, particularly on social media.
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