In the early hours of 12 November, the Israeli Air Force targeted and killed a commander of the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and his wife, while they were sleeping in their home in the northern Gaza Strip. The incident triggered an escalation in hostilities between Israel and various Palestinian armed factions, excluding Hamas. On the morning of 14 November, a cessation of hostilities entered into force and has been largely holding.
Evictions have become routine for Eitidal, aged 30, a wife and mother of two daughters: Layali, 11, and Rimas, 7. Her husband, Medhat, 33, suffers from epileptic seizures and psychological problems, and has been unable to find regular employment. Over the past few years, the family has been evicted twice over accumulated, unpaid rent.
“I have been fishing since I was ten years old and fishing is the only source of income for my wife, myself and our 10 children,” said Fadi, a 44-year-old fisher from Gaza city.
On 1 April 2019, the Israeli authorities expanded the permissible fishing area along the southern and central parts of Gaza’s coast from six up to 15 nautical miles (NM) offshore, the furthest distance that Gaza’s fishers have been permitted to access since 2000. Access to the northern areas along the coast remain more limited at up to 6 NM, well below the 20 NM agreed under the Oslo Accords
The annual olive harvest, which takes place every year between October and November, is a key economic, social and cultural event for Palestinians. In the West Bank, more than 10 million olive trees are cultivated on approximately 86,000 hectares of land, representing 47 per cent of the total cultivated agricultural area. Between 80,000 and 100,000 families are said to rely on olives and olive oil for primary or secondary sources of income, and the sector employs large numbers of unskilled laborers and more than 15 per cent of working women. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the olive oil yield for the West Bank in 2019 is estimated to reach a record 27,000 tons, which is an 84 per cent increase over the previous year. The estimated record yield this year is due to the alternate fruit-bearing “on and off seasons” and less infestation by the olive fruit fly during the current season.
Recent statements by both Israeli and Palestinian officials have called into question the 25-year old division of the West Bank into Areas A, B & C, established as part of the 1990s Oslo Accords. On the one hand, Israel’s Prime Minister declared his intention, if re-elected, to “apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea” as a first step to the formal annexation of all Israeli settlements in Area C. On the other hand, Palestine’s Prime Minister stated that the A, B & C division is no longer valid and issued a directive to expand Palestinian master planning in Area C. It still remains unclear if these announcements will be implemented and what the humanitarian impact would be.
Aziz, is a 25 years old Palestinian from Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar, a small Bedouin community in the northern Jordan Valley. Over the past six years, Aziz has experienced four demolitions by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA). In February 2019, the ICA demolished seven structures belonging to Aziz, including the tents in which his family resides and shelters for his livestock. Rendered homeless, Aziz, his mother, brother and two sisters were forced to seek refuge in Tammum town (Tubas governorate) for a period of two weeks and leave his livestock behind, exposed to the harsh winter conditions.
For Sahar Al Nabaheen, the lack of access to regular, high-quality family planning information and services has all but defined her life. At 31, she lives with her husband and their six children in Al Bureij Camp, Middle Area Gaza. Three of Sahar’s pregnancies were unplanned due to a lack of available contraceptives. With her and her husband unable to find work, her family of eight are living on no income.
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Ahmed Badawi is a 48-year-old farmer, who provides for his wife and nine children. The family owns about two acres of land, located 400 metres from Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza, in the Ash Shuja’iyeh of the Gaza Strip. For many years, Israel has restricted the access of Palestinians to areas near the fence, undermining farming. In addition, since 30 March 2018, Palestinians have been demonstrating there, on an almost-weekly basis, as part of the ‘Great March of Return’ (GMR), causing damage to crops in the process.
July 2019 recorded nearly 20,000 exits of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip via the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, a four-year high. Almost two-thirds of these exits were by people carrying ‘traders’ permits, although many were reported to be labourers employed in Israel, whose entry has been officially banned since 2006. Also in July, the number of entries and exits to and from Gaza via the Rafah Crossing with Egypt (over 18,000) was the highest since 2014. Finally, almost 800 trucks of goods entered Gaza from Egypt through the Salah ad Din gate during the month, the largest figure recorded since this gate began operating in early 2018.
The increase in electricity supply in the Gaza Strip since October 2018 has improved the delivery of water and sanitation services, while reducing expenditure on fuel for back-up generators for households and businesses. This increase has also reduced the need for the emergency fuel provided by the UN to avert the collapse of key service providers.