As stated in OPT Humanitarian Response Plan, a protracted protection crisis continues in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), characterized by Israel’s occupation; insufficient respect for international law; the blockade on the Gaza Strip; the internal divide between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas; and recurrent escalations of hostilities between the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups. In Gaza, the humanitarian situation remains dire, as evidenced by high rates of unemployment, poverty and food insecurity, while sporadic outbreaks of violence are threatening to ignite a wider confrontation. In the West Bank, the rate of demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures and settler violence remain high, and many Palestinians, particularly in Area C, East Jerusalem, and Hebron city (H2), continue to face the risk of forcible transfer. The deterioration in the humanitarian situation is exacerbated by significant shortfalls in donor support for humanitarian actors, especially UNRWA, as well as increased restrictions on operational space, which are undermining the ability of the international community to effectively respond to increasing need. Across the oPt, some 2.4 million Palestinians will need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020, the majority in Gaza.
The overall situation in Gaza remains fragile. The Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations continue, adding to the already high casualty toll and to the long-term health, disability and psychosocial caseload. Unemployment in Gaza increased from 43 per cent in 2018 to almost 47 per cent in the second quarter of 2019, with youth unemployment at 64 per cent. Some 46 per cent of the population live below the US$5.5 poverty line and an estimated 62 per cent of households are severely or moderately food insecure. There is also evidence of increased resorting to negative and harmful coping mechanisms on the part of vulnerable groups, particularly children, as shown in the rise in the school dropout rates, child labour and child marriage, and about 270,000 children suffering from severe, moderate or mild forms of mental disorders.
Although the humanitarian situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is less acute than the situation in the Gaza strip, economic growth in 2019 “is at the lowest level over the last five years (1.2 percent), down from 3.1 percent in 2018.” Economic development is undermined by Israel’s direct military occupation, administrative and physical constraint, and by limitations on Palestinian access to land and natural resources especially in Area C, which comprises over 60 per cent of the West Bank. Israeli settlement expansion continues, including in East Jerusalem, imperiling the realization of a viable two-state solution, which is compounded by more frequent declarations by Israeli political figures of annexing significant parts of the West Bank.
In East Jerusalem and Area C, a restrictive and discriminatory planning regime makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to develop adequate housing and infrastructure. Demolition and threat of demolition of homes, schools and livelihoods; denial of service infrastructure; access restrictions on farming and grazing land; poor law enforcement on violent settlers; and revocation of residency rights, among others, create a coercive environment, which generates pressure on Palestinians to leave their communities.
Regarding education in the oPt, access to education continues to be compromised due to the protracted occupation and recurrent conflict.
Education related violations include attacks on schools, military use of schools, threats of attacks against school staff and students and interference with access to education. In the Gaza Strip, twelve years of blockade, combined with multiple escalations of hostilities, have resulted in repeated damage and destruction to an already fragile education infrastructure. The acute humanitarian situation is exacerbated by the severe shortages in electricity, increased poverty and protection concerns.
In the West Bank including Jerusalem, checkpoints and the Barrier impede access to education for children living in the “Seam Zone” and in East Jerusalem communities isolated by the Barrier. In addition, recent years witnessed an increased number of Israeli attacks on schools located in Area C and Hebron H2.