Following a six-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Ursula Mueller, called on the international community to ensure continued commitment and consistent and sustained funding to help alleviate the challenges faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The last “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstration in 2019 was held in Gaza on 27 December and recorded the lowest number of participants and injuries since the GMR started on 30 March 2018.
A total of 129 Palestinians, including 44 children, were injured by Israeli forces during the “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstrations near the perimeter fence between Gaza and Israel. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, 60 people were hospitalized for their injuries while the rest were treated in the field. Israeli sources reported that on several occasions, protesters approached the fence and threw explosive devices, resulting in no Israeli injuries. The protests that took place on 13 and 20 December recorded some of the lowest numbers of injuries since the start of the GMR on March 2018.
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Suhad is a 38-year-old Palestinian from Hebron city. She lives in H2, the area that Israel controls directly, where it maintains several settlement compounds and, citing security concerns, severely restricts the movement of Palestinians. For many years, people living there have experienced violence and aggression by Israeli forces and settlers, among other occupation-related practices, and have been among the most vulnerable groups in the West Bank.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip have undermined the living conditions of about two million Palestinians. Many of the restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s and also in 2000s, when Israel shut down the Gaza airport and safe passage between Gaza and West Bank, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the imposition of a blockade and the closure of the Rafah crossing with Egypt (Rafah reopened in 2018). These restrictions limit access to livelihoods, essential basic services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. In recent months, OCHA has witnessed some easing of restrictions, such as the opening Kerem Shalom crossing on Fridays for the entry of Qatari-funded fuel for the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) and an increase in the number of permits issued to Palestinians classified as business people.
The Gaza Strip faces a chronic humanitarian crisis, impacting the livelihoods and access to essential services by its two million residents. This crisis has been driven by over 12 years of an Israeli blockade and an unsolved internal Palestinian divide, exacerbated since March 2018 by the massive increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of demonstrations taking place near Israel’s perimeter fence, as well as limited escalations in hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups. The following indicators were identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to monitor specific aspects of the crisis, identify areas of further deterioration and trigger humanitarian action.
39 low-lying areas in the Gaza Strip at risk of flooding in winter. Demolitions, new settlement outpost and land confiscation put further pressure on Bethlehem farmers. New report reveals high levels of gender-based violence, especially in the Gaza Strip.
With the onset of winter, an estimated 235,000 people, living in low-lying areas in the Gaza Strip lacking adequate infrastructure, are at risk of flooding, due to the possible overflow of stormwater facilities and sewage pumping stations. Initial reports indicate that approximately 2,000 homes have already been flooded,following heavy rains recorded on 8 and 9 December 2019. As the first article in this month’s Humanitarian Bulletin explains, this is due to the lack of maintenance and repair of these facilities, compounded by a shortage of fuel to operate backup generators. Underfunding drives these deficits: in 2019, less than 74 per cent of the $68 million needed to operate Gaza’s 484 public water and sanitation facilities was secured.
Muslih A’ta Wafi lives with his wife and seven children on the ground floor of a threestorey house in one of the lowest points of Khan Younis city. “In preparation for the 2018 winter season, we added another layer to the floor to raise it and prevent flooding,” said Muslih. “Unfortunately, this only prevented light rain from flooding the house, but whenever it rained heavily, our home flooded with a mix of sewage and rainwater. Last year, we lost most of our furniture.”
Basheer Sous, President of the Beit Jala Farmers’ Society, owns several plots of land in the Al Makhrour area of Beit Jala in Bethlehem governorate, which he shares with his brothers. Al Makhrour extends for approximately 3,000 dunums and in addition to Beit Jala, includes land which the villages of Al Walaja, Batir, Husan, Wadi Fukin and Nahalin have traditionally used. The apricot, olive, fig and almond trees in Al Makhrour, irrigated by natural springs, are an important source of livelihood for farmers from these communities.