oPt

oPt Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2021

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2021 in review

HUMANITARIAN CONTEXT

Humanitarian situation in 2021

The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) remains a protracted protection crisis, characterized by over 54 years of Israeli military occupation, a lack of respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, internal Palestinian political divisions, and recurrent escalations of hostilities. In 2021, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related mobility restrictions, exacerbated humanitarian vulnerabilities, overburdening the already-stretched healthcare system and worsening socioeconomic conditions across the oPt. An outbreak of violence in May, the most serious escalation of hostilities between Palestinian armed factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel since 2014, has increased people’s dependence on aid and their reliance on negative coping strategies to address basic needs. In Gaza and the West Bank, concerns remain, about excessive use of force by Israeli soldiers resulting in the killing or serious injury of Palestinians, and lack of accountability for such possible violations of international law.

The May escalation in Gaza

In Gaza, the May escalation resulted in 261 Palestinians killed, over 2,200 injured, and up to US$380 million in physical damage to core infrastructure assets, including buildings, health, educational and WASH facilities, in addition to US$190 million in economic losses.1 Although the ceasefire is holding, and the Israeli authorities have eased some restrictions imposed in May, the blockade remains in place, impeding the access and movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, implementing infrastructure projects and delaying economic recovery. The long- standing intra-Palestinian divide between Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) remains unresolved, reducing the ability of local institutions in Gaza to deliver basic services to the population. Restrictions imposed by Hamas increasingly impede humanitarian operations in Gaza. Gaza’s economy remained almost stagnant in the first half of 2021 due to the May conflict, unemployment has reached 44.7 per cent and poverty almost 60 per cent.

The ongoing threat of eviction in the West Bank

In the West Bank, May 2021 witnessed extensive clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, focused on the ongoing threat of eviction of Palestinian families. Overall, 2021 has seen a significant increase in conflict-related Palestinian casualties in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and settler-related violence against Palestinians and their property. The restrictive and discriminatory planning regime applied in Area C and East Jerusalem continues to prevent Palestinians from addressing basic housing, livelihood and service needs, with continuing high rates of demolitions and seizures of Palestinian structures, including ‘self-demolitions’ in East Jerusalem, on the grounds of a lack of Israeli- required building permits. Demolitions, evictions and settler violence are some of the ongoing Israeli policies and practices, many linked to Israeli settlements, which intensify the coercive environment on vulnerable communities in Area C, East Jerusalem and the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron city.

TheIsraeliauthorities, citing security reasons, continue to impose physical and administrative restrictions on humanitarian programmes. This includes constraints on delivering of materials needed for humanitarian projects, and limitations on implementing projects that involve building, expanding or rehabilitating infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, Area C, the H2 area of Hebron and East Jerusalem.

Continuing shortfalls in funding accompanied these limits on operating space, further constraining operations. Six Palestinian human rights and humanitarian NGOs as were designated as ‘terror organizations’ by the Israeli authorities in late 2021. At the time of writing, evidence substantiating the allegations had not been provided to the United Nations. These decisions risk further undermining the humanitarian community’s ability to provide assistance and protection to Palestinians throughout the oPt.

Disclaimer

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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