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Occupied Palestinian Territory: Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020 (December 2019)

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Part 1

Impact of the Crisis and Humanitarian Consequences

1.1 Context of the Crisis

The humanitarian context of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is a protracted protection crisis, characterized by more than 50 years of Israeli occupation, insufficient respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, internal Palestinian political divisions, and recurrent escalations of hostilities between Israel Security Forces and Palestinian armed groups. As a result, significant humanitarian and protection challenges prevail including: a continuing need for protection measures for over two million Palestinians – around 40 per cent of the population – who are experiencing, or at risk of, conflict and violence, displacement, and denial of access to livelihoods, among other threats; entrenched levels of food insecurity, brought on by high levels of poverty and unemployment , especially among the refugee population; inadequate access to essential services for the most vulnerable households; and limited or declining ability of vulnerable households to cope with the prolonged nature of the humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian actors, particularly UNRWA, face record-low funding levels, with ever greater challenges to their ability to operate due to restrictions, political considerations, and attacks designed to delegitimize humanitarian action.1 These dynamics are significantly magnified in the Gaza context by the protracted blockade, imposed by Israel citing security concerns, the intensification of the internal divide between the West Bankbased Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas; and since March 2018 a massive rise in casualties during demonstrations held along the perimeter fence. Combined, these factors have devastated public infrastructure, disrupted and overwhelmed basic services and undermined vulnerable living conditions. Across the oPt, over two million Palestinians will need some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020, around three-quarters of whom live in Gaza.

1.2 Impact of the Crisis and Humanitarian Consequences

Over the past year, Gaza and southern Israel have experienced sporadic outbreaks of violence which have threatened to ignite a wider confrontation, which has been averted following informal ceasefires concluded after the May and November escalations. The disbursement of Qatari-funded aid has improved electricity supply, which has boosted water and wastewater services, but much more significant funding is needed to address longstanding, structural problems, including high levels of unemployment, poverty, food insecurity as well as a chronic shortage of clean water. 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; concerns about Israel’s excessive use of force during the demonstrations remain. There are also concerns that Hamas and armed factions in Gaza have not done enough to protect children and prevent their instrumentalization.

Although the humanitarian situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is less acute, Israel increasingly treats parts of the occupied area as its own sovereign territory, seizing lands, exploiting natural resources, and establishing and expanding settlements, which are illegal under international humanitarian law. Many Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, particularly in Area C, East Jerusalem, and the settlement area of Hebron city (H2), continue to face the risk of forcible transfer. Certain Israeli policies and practices applied in these areas create a coercive environment, which generates pressure on Palestinians to leave their communities. These include the demolition and threat of demolition of homes, schools and livelihoods; denial of service infrastructure; access restrictions on farming and grazing land; poor law enforcement in response to violent settlers; and revocation of residency rights, among others. This year has witnessed a significant increase in the number of demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures, while settler violence remains at similarly high levels to 2018. Incidents of military presence around schools and military activity inside or close to schools which affect children’s safe access to education rose in 2018.

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