A series of measures implemented by the Palestinian Authority since March 2017, following an escalation in the internal Palestinian divide, have led to a deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Against the backdrop of 10 years of Israel’s land, air and sea blockade, these measures have exacerbated Gaza’s energy crisis, resulting in increasing outages from 12-16 to 18-20 hours a day, worsened the salary crisis in the public sector, increased the shortage of essential drugs from around 33% in March to 45% in October and delayed the referral of patients for medical treatment outside Gaza. 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. Despite an agreement signed in October 2017 between Fatah and Hamas, most of the measures that triggered the recent deterioration have not been reversed.
This publication brings together a series of factsheets that were published by OCHA over the course of the past five years, highlighting different issues of humanitarian concern in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The facts and figures have been reviewed and updated for this compilation, which comes on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the start of Israel’s military occupation.
The reported period witnessed a wave of protests, clashes, rocket firing and airstrikes across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), resulting in eight Palestinian fatalities and nearly 2,900 injuries, including at least 345 children; seven Israelis were also injured. The unrest, which followed a United States’ announcement on 6 December recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, raises concern because of its potential to escalate into a new round of hostilities.
Over 560,000 Palestinians in Gaza residing in areas prone to flooding are at risk of temporary displacement due to the precarious state of infrastructure. 2017 marked a record of US$18.2 million in revenue for agricultural exports from Gaza in an otherwise poor economic situation, with the unemployment rate reaching over 46 per cent. Around 1,300 Palestinians in twelve herding communities in southern Hebron affected by intense Israeli military training and additional access restrictions, exacerbating the coercive environment facing them. The 2017 olive harvest season in the West Bank impacted by a rise in incidents of settler violence, and access restrictions to lands behind the Barrier and near Israeli settlements.
The second week of December 2017 has been marked by heightened unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The 6 December announcement concerning the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel triggered widespread demonstrations and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces.
In the Gaza Strip, another winter season brings with it the threat of temporary displacement, property losses and health risks due to flooding and poor housing conditions. Insufficient funding, import restrictions, the ongoing energy crisis and the limited capacity of the Palestinian Civil Defense (PCD) are key factors that hinder the ability of the relevant actors to reduce vulnerability and respond effectively.
November marked the beginning of the peak season for the export of high-value cash crops such as strawberries. Growth in agricultural trade from the Gaza Strip in 2017 is encouraging news within an economic context characterized by sluggish growth and unemployment peaking at 46.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.
Intense military training exercises over the past two months and the obstruction of key access routes have exacerbated the coercive environment imposed on approximately 1,300 residents of 12 Palestinian herding communities in southern Hebron.
The 2017 olive harvest season, which lasted roughly from mid-September to mid-November, was reported to have proceeded relatively smoothly. However, an increase in incidents of settler violence, including theft of and damage to olive trees, and restrictions on access to olive groves behind the Barrier and near Israeli settlements, continue to pose challenges for Palestinian farmers.
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.