About 2.5 million Palestinians across the oPt, or roughly half of the population, were identified as in need of humanitarian assistance and protection according to the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) released in December 2017. Of those, 1.9 million, identified as the most vulnerable, will be targeted in 2018 by a range of interventions outlined in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), at a total cost of $539.7 million, ten per cent lower than the 2017 request.
The major drivers of humanitarian vulnerability in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) remain unchanged. The protracted occupation of the oPt, which marked its fiftieth year in June 2017, is accompanied by the systematic denial of Palestinian rights and ongoing conflict.
In the Gaza Strip, ten years of blockade imposed by Israel after the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas, plus recurrent outbreaks of hostilities, have eroded basic infrastructure, service delivery, livelihoods and coping mechanisms. An intra-Palestinian political divide between authorities in Ramallah and Gaza has exacerbated the dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza, with the ten-year crisis deepening in 2017 following the imposition of measures affecting civil service allowances, electricity supplies and medical payments by the PA. While intra-Palestinian reconciliation discussions accelerated in late 2017 and show promise, talks have yet to translate into any improvement in the humanitarian situation.
In the West Bank, the prolonged occupation, continuing settlement expansion, and the destruction of homes and livelihoods, remain major sources of frustration and conflict, and pose a heightened risk of forcible transfer for many Palestinians. A pervasive crisis of accountability exists as there are no effective remedies for the vast majority of alleged violations of international law. In this protracted oPt crisis, the drivers of vulnerability are linked to a stunted economy, fragmentation, and limited opportunities for growth and development across the oPt, plus de-development in Gaza. The root causes of drivers of vulnerability are political and require engagement beyond a purely humanitarian response to be resolved.
In early 2017, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) embarked on a multi-year plan for the period 2018-2020. The unique context in the oPt offers both an opportunity and an interest in developing a longer-term strategy to address the protracted and chronic humanitarian impact of the Israeli occupation and the intra-Palestinian political divide. The three strategic objectives for all interventions in the coming three years are: protecting the rights of Palestinians living under occupation in accordance with international law, with duty-bearers held increasingly to account; providing access to basic services for those who are vulnerable; and supporting the ability of Palestinians to cope with, and overcome, a protracted crisis while more sustainable solutions are sought.
The HRP for 2018 comprises 240 projects, of which 31 per cent will be implemented by national NGOs and a further 47 per cent will be implemented in partnership with national NGOs. As in previous years, humanitarian operations in 2018 focus on Area C, the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2) and East Jerusalem in the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
The bulk of the financial requirements (75 per cent) will cover the provision of humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza, where conditions deteriorated significantly in 2017 due to a deepening of the internal Palestinian political divide and the chronic energy crisis in an already fragile humanitarian context following ten years of Israeli blockade, internal divisions and recurrent hostilities.
Approximately 54 per cent of the funding requested ($289 million) is to provide food assistance to 1.6 million Palestinians who are moderately to severely food insecure. Another 17 per cent ($89.9 million) targets ongoing shelter needs, while the remaining 29 per cent will address a range of projects in protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, health and education.
 The decision to adopt a multi-year approach was taken following several months of consultations and consideration by stakeholders of different options for multi-year planning and their applicability to the oPt context. In September 2017, the humanitarian community came together in HRP workshops held in Ramallah and Gaza to define the strategic objectives that will guide the multi-year humanitarian interventions. The 2018 projects were submitted by cluster partners and vetted by the clusters in October and November 2017.