We are following very closely developments in the Sur Bahir area of the Jerusalem governorate. Seventeen Palestinians, including nine Palestine refugees, face the risk of displacement, and over 350 others risk massive property loss, due to the Israeli authorities’ intention to demolish 10 buildings, including around 70 apartments, due to their proximity to the West Bank Barrier. One month ago, following the exhaustion of almost all domestic legal remedies, Israeli forces sent the residents, a “Notice of Intent to Demolish” which will expire tomorrow, 18 July
70 apartments at risk of demolition in Sur Bahir neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Relaxed measures during Ramadan allow West Bank ID holders to access East Jerusalem. Health facilities in Gaza benefit from improved power supply
The informal ceasefire understanding which concluded the escalation of hostilities in early May is still largely holding. June witnessed some easing of restrictions – the extension of the fishing zone, allocation of more business permits, disbursement of some of the Qatari-funded aid – which go some way to alleviating the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
As in previous years, UNOCHA and humanitarian partners monitored the checkpoints controlling access into East Jerusalem and Hebron during the holy month of Ramadan (5 May- 4 June 2019) to identify assess ease of access for Friday prayers, identify potential protection risks and possible mitigation measures for the multitudes seeks to cross the checkpoints. Particular attention is given to the most vulnerable amongst those seeking access including children, pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly. This monitoring also informs UNOCHA’s analysis of broader access trends. On the four Fridays of Ramadan 2019, monitoring teams comprising staff members from UNOCHA, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and the United Nations’ Office for Human Rights (OHCHR) observed access at permitted entry points into Jerusalem (Qalandiya, Gilo/Bethlehem and Zaytoun) and access into the Old City of Jerusalem. In addition, monitoring teams were stationed at the entrance of the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the H2 area of Hebron.
For the past decade, the Gaza Strip has suffered from a chronic electricity deficit that has undermined already fragile living conditions. The situation deteriorated further after April 2017 due to disputes between the de facto authorities in Gaza and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), which has been ongoing since the takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007. The failure to resolve a longstanding dispute between the two Palestinian authorities on issues related to tax exemption for fuel and revenue collection from electricity consumers resulted in the PA reducing payments for electricity in Gaza. Compounded by a halt in the electricity supply from Egypt due to malfunctioning and inability to repair the feeder lines, this triggered electricity blackouts of 20-22 hours a day. The power shortages had a severe impact on essential services such as health, water and sanitation services, and undermined Gaza’s fragile economy, particularly the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. During this period, the UN coordinated the delivery of donor-funded emergency fuel for generators to ensure the operation of some 250 critical health and WASH facilities.
Houses to be demolished in Sur Bahir because of proximity to the Barrier: Sur Bahir (pop. 24,000) is a Palestinian neighbourhood in the south east of Jerusalem. Most of Sur Bahir is located within the unilaterally-annexed East Jerusalem municipal area, but the community reports that they own some 4,000 dunums of land in Area A and B and C, as designated under the Oslo Accords. Uniquely, the Barrier has been routed around Sur Bahir so that parts of Area A, B and C fall on the ‘Jerusalem’ side. The residents’ local committee estimates that some 6,000 people, or a quarter of the population, currently live in these Oslo-defined areas. Despite this, these areas have not been incorporated within the municipal boundary, although they are now physically separated from the remainder of the West Bank. In practice, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is unable to access or deliver services to Area A and B in Sur Bahir, although they still issue building permits in these areas, as they have been authorized to do under the Oslo Accords.
A total of 494 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during the reporting period in demonstrations held in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’ (GMR), which have been taking place in the Gaza Strip near the perimeter fence with Israel since 30 March 2018. Over 45 per cent of those injured were hospitalized.
The Gaza Strip faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, impacting the livelihoods and access to essential services by its two million residents. This crisis has been driven by over 11 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. The following indicators were identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to monitor the crisis, trigger humanitarian action and prevent further deterioration.
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, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a blockade. These restrictions limit access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future.
Since 30 March 2018, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of mass demonstrations and other activities along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza, taking place as part of the «Great March of Return» (GMR), as well as during hostilities and access related incidents. The large number of casualties among unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including a high percentage of demonstrators injured by live ammunition, has raised concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli troops. Exposure of children to violence and lack of protection for medical teams are also of concern. Despite significant assistance provided, addressing the resulting multiple needs of the mass influx of casualties remains challenging due to the lack of funds, years of blockade, the internal Palestinian political divide and a chronic energy crisis.