Slight increase in demolitions and seizures during February. Most structures targeted supported agricultural, herding and commercial livelihoods. Eight EU-funded structures demolished or seized, including a school in an area planned for settlement expansion.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of approximately two million Palestinians in that area. Many of the current restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a blockade. These restrictions continue to reduce access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed since June 2013 by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah Crossing, which had become the main crossing point used by Palestinian passengers in the Gaza Strip, given the restrictions on the Israeli-controlled crossings. On 1 November 2017, pursuant to the Palestinian reconciliation agreement reached on 12 October, the Hamas authorities handed over control of the Gaza side of the Erez, Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings to the Palestinian Authority; a Hamas-run checkpoint that controlled access to the Erez crossing (“Arba’ Arba’”) was dismantled.
Last month’s Humanitarian Bulletin warned that the Gaza Strip was on the brink of collapse. The key drivers identified then were the lack of progress in the implementation of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas; the unprecedented financial crisis facing UNRWA, one of the territory’s main service providers; and the risk that funding for the emergency fuel provided by the UN in Gaza would be exhausted by mid-February.
One Palestinian man was killed and another 50 were injured by Israeli forces, during clashes following the entry of armed Israeli settlers to Palestinian communities in the Nablus area on five occasions. Four of the incidents occurred around the settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha, which have been a longstanding source of systematic violence and harassment against residents of six surrounding villages. The fatality, a 22-year-old was killed and a 15-year-old child was injured with live ammunition, both were recorded on 10 March in ‘Urif village (Nablus). Similar clashes resulting in 44 Palestinian injuries took place in previous days also in ‘Urif, as well as in Burin and Einabus. The remaining four injuries were recorded during clashes following the entry of Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli forces, to Nablus city to visit a religious site (Joseph’s tomb).
Supported by donors, the UN has been coordinating the delivery of emergency fuel to run back-up generators and vehicles in the Gaza Strip since 2013. This has ensured that a minimal level of life-saving health, water and sanitation services are maintained despite the severe energy crisis.
During the first two months of 2018, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized a total of 70 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank. On average, this is the same number of monthly demolitions recorded in 2017 (35), and around one-third of figures recorded in 2016 (91). Around 30 per cent of the structures targeted in 2018 were residential and 81 people were displaced. The remainder were livelihood-related or public structures, including two school classrooms. An assessment by humanitarian actors of the education sector indicates that 44 Palestinian schools in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are at risk of full or partial demolition or seizure due to the lack of an Israeli-issued building permit.
Since 28 January 2018, the three access roads into Hizma village have been totally or partially blocked to Palestinian traffic by the Israeli military, and remain so at the time of writing. Hizma is a Palestinian village of over 7000 residents in Jerusalem governorate. The bulk of its built-up area is in Area B, but small parts of the village lie in Area C or within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, separated from the rest of the city by the Barrier.
Joint press release, Gaza: Today, the Minister of Social Development of the State of Palestine, H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Shaer, and the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, launched the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2018, to support the humanitarian needs of 1.9 million Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
Delivered at press conference in Beit Lahiya, North Gaza, 14 March 2018: "Good afternoon. Members of the media, donors, national partners; thank you for coming. Today, I am pleased to be in Gaza for the launch of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2018, which took place earlier today at an event with the donor community, where I was joined by the Minister of Social Development of the State of Palestine, H.E. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Shaer, by video link from Ramallah. I am also pleased to be joined today by colleagues from UNRWA and the UN agencies and NGOs that are leading the humanitarian response in the oPt."
Donations of $3.5 million avert a halt of emergency fuel program in Gaza, preventing the collapse of vital services; available funding will be exhausted by mid-2018. Newly-built classrooms demolished in a Bedouin community located in an area planned for settlement expansion; 44 schools in Area C and East Jerusalem at risk of demolition. Closure of a West Bank village, ongoing for over one month, generates hardship and raises concern about collective punishment.