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.
On 26 September, a 37-year-old Palestinian man shot and killed three Israelis, including two security guards and a border policeman, and injured another border policeman, at a Barrier gate next to the Har Hadar settlement (Jerusalem governorate); the perpetrator was shot and killed at the scene. The perpetrator’s body is being withheld by the Israeli authorities. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, strongly condemned the attack. This brings to 14 the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians since the beginning of 2017, of whom nine were members of the security forces, while the number of Palestinian perpetrators and suspected perpetrators of attacks killed during this period reached 23, including six children.
Gaza energy crisis further undermines the access of over 49,000 people with disabilities to critical life-saving services and devices. The rate of approval of patients’ applications for exit permits via Israel declined to an average of 53 per cent so far in 2017, compounded by delays in the financial approval for such referrals by the Ramallah-based Ministry of Health. Access of some 1,800 Palestinians in the H2 area of Hebron to services and livelihoods is further restricted due to a new fence and gate installed by the Israeli authorities. Nine educational-related structures seized on the eve of the new school year on grounds of lack of building permits, in three Area C communities, already affected by a coercive environment.
Driven by ongoing electricity outages of 18-20 hours a day, an unresolved salary crisis in the public sector, and a blockade restricting the movement of people and goods, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip remains extremely precarious.
People with disabilities and special needs have been disproportionately affected by the deterioration in living conditions in the Gaza Strip since March 2017. This situation is driven by a worsening energy crisis, which has resulted in outages of 18-20 hours a day, and an exacerbation of the salary crisis in the public sector, both of which are linked to an escalation in internal Palestinian divisions.1 In the midst of this crisis, Gaza’s unemployment rate reached 44 per cent in the second quarter of 2017 (April-June), up from 41.1 per cent in the previous quarter and 41.7 per cent in the same period of 2016.
The volume of people allowed to move in and out of Gaza has declined further since the beginning of 2017 in comparison with the previous two years, particularly via the Israeli-controlled crossing (Erez). Movement via Rafah, the Egyptian controlled crossing, also remains at extremely low levels. This has exacerbated the isolation of Gaza from the remainder of the oPt and the outside world, further limiting access to medical treatment unavailable in Gaza, to higher education, to family and social life, and to employment and economic opportunities. The tightening of restrictions in recent months has also obstructed the movement of national staff employed by the UN and international NGOs and impeded humanitarian operations.
A new fence installed by the Israeli authorities around two Palestinian neighbourhoods in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2), As Salaymeh and Gheith, further separates up to 1,800 Palestinians from the rest of the city. This is in addition to the recent reinforcement (including the installment of turnstiles) of two pre-existing checkpoints controlling access to the area where the new fence was installed. These developments disrupt the livelihoods and family life of Palestinians living in the two neighbourhoods and limit access to basic services like health and education.
The targeting of key service infrastructure in already vulnerable communities in Area C in recent months has exacerbated the coercive environment and places residents at risk of forcible transfer. In August, on the eve of the new school year, the Israeli authorities requisitioned nine educational-related structures serving 170 children in three such communities.
48 Palestinians, including ten children and six women, were injured across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in clashes with Israeli forces. Four of the injuries occurred in the Gaza Strip, during protests next to the perimeter fence, and the rest in the West Bank. The highest number of injuries was recorded in the Qalqiliya governorate (33), including during a search and arrest operation in the village of Azzun and the weekly demonstration against access restrictions in Kafr Qaddum. Additionally, Israeli forces shot and injured, and, subsequently, arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian boy after he reportedly attempted to stab an Israeli man next to Kiryat Arba settlement (Hebron).
Against the backdrop of 10 years of Israel’s land, air and sea blockade, there has been an escalation in the internal Palestinian divide, since March 2017, which exacerbated Gaza’s energy crisis and resulted in outages of 18-20 hours a day. Additionally, the salary crisis in the public sector in Gaza has worsened; thousands of civil servants have been reportedly referred for early retirement; and the financial approval for the referral of hundreds of patients outside Gaza has been reportedly delayed/disrupted. These developments have impacted the availability of essential services and the livelihoods of Gaza’s two million residents. The following indicators were identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to monitor the evolution of the crisis, trigger humanitarian action and prevent further deterioration.