2018 IN REVIEW
This Annual Report presents information on the achievements of the oPt Humanitarian Fund during the 2018 calendar year. However, because grant allocation, project implementation and reporting processes often take place over multiple years (CBPFs are designed to support ongoing and evolving humanitarian responses), the achievement of CBPFs are reported in two distinct ways:
Information on allocations for granted in 2018 (shown in blue). This method considers intended impact of the allocations rather than achieved results as project implementation and reporting often continues into the subsequent year and results information is not immediately available at the time of publication of annual reports.
Results reported in 2018 attributed to allocations granted in 2018 and prior years (shown in orange). This method provides a more complete picture of achievements during a given calendar year but includes results from allocations that were granted in previous years. This data is extracted from final narrative reports approved between 1 January 2018 – 31 January 2019.
Figures for people targeted and reached may include double counting as individuals often receive aid from multiple cluster/sectors.
Humanitarian situation in 2018 A protracted protection crisis continues in the oPt, which remains largely attributable to Israel’s ongoing occupation, now in its 52nd year, the continuing internal Palestinian divide and violations of international law. After years of a relative absence of armed conflict since the 2014 hostilities, there has been a sharp deterioration in the humanitarian, human rights, security and political situation in the Gaza Strip in 2018. The health system, on the verge of collapse following years of blockade and de-development, is now overburdened with massive casualties from the ongoing “Great March of Return” demonstrations. The economy is in ‘free fall’ according to the World Bank1 , and poverty, unemployment and food insecurity are increasing, as are other core drivers of humanitarian need. For much of 2018, power cuts of 18-20 hours a day have impeded the delivery of basic services and crippled productive activity: since late October, the delivery of fuel funded by Qatar has provided a significant, if temporary, improvement in the electricity supply. Hospitals, water and sewage treatment facilities, and solid waste collection services are still reliant on UN coordinated emergency fuel to maintain essential services.
The coastal aquifer, Gaza’s sole water source, has been virtually depleted by over-extraction and the intrusion of seawater, forcing the impoverished population to buy trucked water, often of poor quality, at up to 20 times the expense of water from the network.2 There is a palpable sense of hopelessness and desperation among the population in Gaza, whose coping mechanisms and resilience have been eroded, while rising violence and tension are fueling concerns of a renewed escalation of hostilities. This deterioration is exacerbated by significant shortfalls in donor support for the Palestinian Authority (PA), UNRWA and humanitarian operations in general, undermining the ability of the international community to effectively respond to increasing needs.
While the humanitarian situation in the West Bank is less acute, economic growth there is also slowing down. Israel’s direct military occupation has continued and with it the appropriation of land and resources. The PA is prevented from operating in East Jerusalem and Area C, which represent more than 60 per cent of the West Bank and contain the most valuable natural resources. A coercive environment intensified, driven by demolitions, forced evictions, discriminatory planning, access restrictions, settlement expansion and settler violence, generating a risk of forcible transfer for many Palestinians in Area C, East Jerusalem and the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron city, H2.
New legislation and administrative steps, if implemented, risk to significantly limit the ability of individuals and human rights organizations to challenge the demolition or seizure of Palestinian properties in Area C and in East Jerusalem.3 The failure to resolve the intra-Palestinian political divide is deepening territorial and political fragmentation and contributing to cynicism and hopelessness among Palestinian youth. All of these developments are accompanied by unprecedented shortfalls in funding, alongside growing restrictions and attacks on humanitarian partners, which are generating an increasingly constrained operational context.
AN ENORMOUS RISE IN CASUALTIES IN GAZA AMIDST A LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ONGOING VIOLATIONS
After years of a relative absence of armed conflict since the 2014 hostilities, there has been a significant rise in violence and tension in 2018, including rocket firing at Israel4 and airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip, leading to fears of another major escalation. Palestinian casualties have soared from the start of the “Great March of Return” demonstrations on 30 March to late October 2018, reaching a total of 179 people, including 35 children. All of this must be seen in the context of a general lack of accountability for past and ongoing violations of humanitarian and human rights law by multiple duty bearers, amidst a protracted protection crisis, in the context of prolonged restrictions on the movement of people and goods.
GAZA’S HEALTH SERVICE IS ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE
This enormous rise in casualties is overwhelming Gaza’s health sector, already buffeted by the longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods, the deepening intra-Palestinian political divide, an energy crisis, inconsistent payment of medical personnel, and shortages in medicines and disposables. The violence in Gaza has also generated widespread mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) consequences with over 50,000 people, half of them children, in need of MHPSS responses.
DESPITE RECENT IMPROVEMENTS, THE CHRONIC ELECTRICITY DEFICIT IMPACTS ALL ASPECTS OF DAILY LIFE
For much of 2018, the operation of all essential services in Gaza has been constrained by the continuing electricity crisis, which disrupts productive activity and the delivery of essential services, and undermines already vulnerable livelihoods and living conditions. The limited operation of water pumps and water desalination plants has led to a decline in water consumption and hygiene standards, while the shortening or suspension of sewage treatment cycles has added to the pollution of the sea off Gaza. The increase in the electricity deficit in recent decades has been driven by the lack of infrastructure development despite the rapid population growth.
GAZA’S ECONOMY IS IN FREEFALL
Israel’s 11-year-long land, air and sea blockade, imposed following the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas, has crippled the economy, resulting in high levels of unemployment, food insecurity and aid dependency, with the real income of a Palestinian in Gaza about 30 per cent less than in 1999.5 Unemployment in Gaza reached 54 per cent in the second quarter of 2018, with over 70 per cent of young people and 78 per cent of women unemployed. Poverty has soared to 53 per cent and food insecurity to 68 per cent.
VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN THE WEST BANK AS THE ECONOMY SLOWS DOWN
The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, also remains tense, with violent incidents continuing between Palestinians and Israeli security forces and settlers. Night raids and house searches by Israeli forces, the prolonged and arbitrary detention of Palestinians, including the practice of administrative detention, continue to be a major human rights concern.6 After a decline in recent years, settler violence resulting in Palestinian casualties or in damage to property is increasing with 197 incidents recorded by the end of October, compared with 157 in all of 2017.7 Standards of living, economic growth and employment prospects in the West Bank continued to be undermined by limitations on access to land, natural resources and construction.
THE COERCIVE ENVIRONMENT INTENSIFIES
The demolition of residential, livelihood and service infrastructure, on the grounds of a lack of Israeli issued permits, continued throughout the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem.8 Demolitions represent one element of a coercive environment affecting many Palestinians throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which include the promotion of plans to relocate communities to urban townships; restrictions on access to natural resources, the denial of basic service infrastructure; and the lack of secure residency. These practices are often implemented against a backdrop of the establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements. The coercive environment has also resulted in instances of forcible transfer of Palestinians from their homes in the settlement area of Hebron city, reducing a once thriving area to a ‘ghost town’.
HUMANITARIAN FUNDING IS AT AN ALL-TIME LOW
At a time of increasing need, funding for the oPt is at an all time low. By the end of November, only US$ 225 million has been secured of a requested $539.7 million for the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). This shortfall is mainly driven by the decline in contributions for UNRWA, whose projects constitute over 50 per cent of the HRP overall requirements, following the suspension of support from the United States, the Agency’s largest donor, exacerbating the plight of the already vulnerable refugee population.9 However, nearly all agencies requesting through the HRP have received less funding in 2018 than in previous years.
THE OCCUPATION AND POLITICAL STALEMATE ARE DRIVING FRUSTRATION AND CONFLICT
The deterioration of the humanitarian situation cannot be divorced from the broader political context. Although occupation is intended to be temporary, Israel increasingly treats parts of the occupied area as its own sovereign territory, seizing lands, exploiting natural resources, establishing permanent communities, which are illegal under international humanitarian law, and altering the demographic composition of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The PA has limited powers in only 38 per cent of the West Bank which excludes the bulk of the territory’s natural resources. East Jerusalem continues to be progressively isolated from the remainder of the oPt.
OPERATIONAL CONTEXT AND SHRINKING SPACE
In addition to political challenges and funding shortfalls, humanitarian organizations are facing an increasingly difficult operational context and shrinking humanitarian and civic space as a result of physical and administrative restrictions by the Israeli and Hamas authorities, which is hampering their ability to provide assistance and protection to Palestinians throughout the oPt.
Humanitarian Response Plan 2018 The humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) at a glance:
2.5M PEOPLE IN NEED
1.9M PEOPLE TARGETED
$539.7M FUNDING REQUIREMENT
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.