State of Palestine: Humanitarian Situation Report, January - March 2019

Situation Report
Originally published



• The 30th of March 2019 marked one year since the launch of the Great March of Return (GMR). In 2019 the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties due both to the context of mass demonstrations and other activities along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza, and Israeli rocket attacks following rockets fired from within Gaza. Children continue to face grave protection concerns. In 2019 there have been 8 children killed and 897 injured as a result of incidents in Gaza. Since the beginning of the GMR there have been 5,778 children injured and 52 killed in Gaza.

• Withdrawal of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) monitors has left a gap in human rights monitoring and protection in Hebron H2, and has heightened the risk of further serious human rights violations.

• In Gaza, over 74,000 children and women benefited from UNICEF supported health and nutrition services in hospitals, clinics and outreach teams. UNICEF with the MoH and partners improved postnatal home visiting (PNHV) services, and 530 new-born children and their mothers received quality postnatal care services.

• In 2019 to date UNICEF has supported 6,856 children with protective presence on their way to and from schools in vulnerable areas of the West Bank.

• To support vulnerable people in Gaza through the winter, UNICEF provided 6,000 households with e-vouchers in January and February 2019 to procure hygiene items, children’s clothing, blankets or school uniforms.

• As of March 2019, UNICEF is 49% funded against humanitarian programs. However, constraints remain for effective humanitarian programming including due to supply access for Gaza. Furthermore, funding gaps particularly remain for cluster coordination and education programming.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs:

Palestinian children continued to face human rights, protection, and humanitarian issues in 2019, including challenges in accessing services because of where they live, or as a result of being from a particularly disadvantaged group, particularly children living with disabilities. Long-term humanitarian needs in the State of Palestine remain largely attributable to the ongoing conflict. Poverty has increased, with over 29% of Palestinian families living below the poverty line, including over 50% in Gaza. The chronic crisis has been exacerbated since March 2018 by the significant increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of demonstrations taking place near Israel’s perimeter fence as well as limited escalations in hostilities. Palestinians are subject to a series of internal barriers, contributing to delays in the movement of goods and services and creating pockets of extreme vulnerability. The risk of escalation of violence is compounded by the lack of progress on reconciliation efforts between the de facto authority in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority. These factors impact the daily lives of children and increase the burden on development and humanitarian actors to effectively respond to children’s needs.

The 30th of March 2019, marked both Land Day and one year since the beginning of the Great March of Return (GMR) demonstrations. Three Palestinian fatalities were noted on the day, including two 17-year-old boys. The Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties, including in the context of these mass demonstrations as well as during hostilities and access related incidents. OCHA report that between 30 March 2018 and 22 March 2019 there have been 29,187 Palestinian injuries in Gaza including 5,778 children (445 girls). Additionally, there have been 271 people killed, including 52 children (2 girls). Exposure of children to violence and lack of protection for medical teams are also of concern. Despite significant assistance provided, addressing the multi-sectoral needs of the casualties remains challenging due to the lack of funds, years of blockade, the internal divide and a chronic energy crisis.

A significant escalation in hostilities was witnessed in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel in March 2019 after a rocket was fired from Gaza damaging a house in central Israel and injuring seven Israelis. Following the incident, the Israeli Air Force struck multiple locations across Gaza, injuring two and displacing sixteen families. Palestinian armed groups fired projectiles towards southern Israel, reportedly causing damage.

With the non-renewal of the mandate of the TIPH which provided observation and protective presence for some 7,000 of Palestinian residents who live in the H2 zone of Hebron city in January 2019, a gap in human rights monitoring and protection has been created, heightening the risk of further serious human rights violations being committed. The H2 area of Hebron is one of the most volatile places in the West Bank, now exacerbated by the removal of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH).

The humanitarian impact of the blockade and internal political divisions between the administrations of the West Bank and Gaza continues to be severe deepening vulnerability across Gaza. Children and vulnerable women are particularly hard hit with families applying negative coping strategies such as reducing dietary diversity which affects nutrition rates. The Nutrition sub-cluster working group supported a Nutrition Needs Assessment in most vulnerable areas of Gaza. Results indicated a deterioration of the nutrition situation among women and young children, in terms of variety and daily nutritional intake. In addition, an alarming and unforeseen deterioration was noted where 18% of pregnant women and 14% of lactating mothers were reported malnourished. Furthermore, with the Palestinian Authority depending upon Clearance Revenue taxes for up to 70% of its revenue, collected on its behalf by the Israeli Government, the decision by Israel in 2019 to make deductions from these tax revenues could have a profound impact on basic social services for the most vulnerable segments of the Palestinian population.