OPT: The Humanitarian Monitor - Nov 2009

Situation Report
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November Overview

House demolition and displacement incidents affecting East Jerusalem continued to be of concern in November. While no demolitions of Palestinian structures have been recorded since mid-July in Area C, demolitions in East Jerusalem continued during the month; ten Palestinian-owned structures were demolished due to lack of building permits, displacing 73 people, including 41 children.

Tensions remain high in Sheikh Jarrah as Israeli settler organizations intensify their efforts to take control of land and property and establish a sustained presence in this Palestinian residential neighbourhood. In November, settlers took over the uninhabited part of a Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah: although this proved temporary, they returned on 1 December and appear to have established another foothold in the area. In another part of Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian family of four evacuated the house they were renting, following an eviction order issued by the Israeli authorities.

Also in November, the Jerusalem municipality approved the construction of 900 new housing units in Gilo, a settlement established on West Bank land and unilaterally incorporated into the extended Jerusalem municipal boundary and annexed by Israel following the onset of the occupation in June 1967. Of particular concern, East Jerusalem is excluded from the partial, temporary freeze on new settlement construction, which Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, announced in late November.

Concerning access, the Israeli authorities continue to implement measures to improve the freedom of movement between most Palestinian urban centres in the West Bank. However, as demonstrated by OCHA's November Movement and Access update, Palestinian access to land in large areas of the West Bank, especially the Jordan Valley and the closed areas between the Barrier and the Green Line (the "seam zone"), remains for all intents and purposes off-limits to Palestinian use and development. In addition, Palestinian access to the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron City (H2) and East Jerusalem continues to be severely restricted, with the majority of permanently-staffed checkpoints in the West Bank restricting access to these urban centres.

In Gaza, as winter approaches there is increasing concern for the families whose homes were destroyed or damaged as a result of the "Cast Lead" military offensive. The continuing blockade has resulted in negligible reconstruction and repair, as essential materials continue to be denied entry: thousands of families continue to live in homes without window panes or solar panels due to the ban on the import of glass.

The general decline in the amount of goods allowed entry through the official crossings continued during the month, caused in part by the gradual closing of Nahal Oz and the Karni conveyer belt and the increased reliance on Kerem Shalom crossing, which has insufficient capacity, for the passage of all goods. With winter approaching, of particular concern, is the limited quantity of cooking gas allowed entry during the month, approximately 1,200 tons, far below the 5 - 7,000 tons required to meet Gaza's monthly needs, including for heating and cooking.

Continuing restrictions on access to arable land in the 'Buffer Zone' and to fishing areas beyond the current three-nautical-mile limit continue to undermine Gazan livelihoods and contribute to ongoing food insecurity. The damaging extent of food insecurity facing the Gaza population was demonstrated this month in a new UN survey issued in November with findings that over 60 percent of Gaza's population are currently food insecure and an additional 16 percent are vulnerable to food insecurity. According to the report, food insecurity in the Gaza Strip is primarily due to the high levels of poverty resulting from restrictions imposed by Israel in the course of its blockade, rather than the lack of food in the market.

On 30 November, the 2010 Consolidated Appeal was launched globally in Geneva. United Nations humanitarian agencies, along with international and national non-governmental organizations operating in the oPt, appealed for US $664.4 million to fund 236 humanitarian assistance programmes in 2010. Through the CAP, humanitarian agencies will continue the important work of mitigating the worst impacts of the human dignity crisis facing Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. As many of the events reported above indicate, it is a crisis characterized by the erosion of livelihoods, the denial of basic human rights and a forced dependency on international aid that affects all aspects of the daily life of Palestinians. The residents of the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, including those living in areas near Israeli settlements and in Barrier-adjacent areas, have been identified as priority populations in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.